The Beat goes On

first_imgIt was said by many a musician that no man could possibly evoke as many sounds from a drum as Ustad Allah Rakha, until they were silenced by the performance of this man. Legend goes that when he was just a few days old, this same legendary tabla maestro whispered not a lullaby, or a blessing, but the notes of the tabla in his ears. The infant was Khan sahib’s gifted son Zakir. To be born to Ustad Allah Rakha is a privilege, to carry on his mantle an incredible responsibility, but Ustad Zakir Hussain has managed to do so with amazing grace. Starting out at a very tender age of two or three, and touring by the time he was 12, Zakir has emerged today as a global icon of world music, enthralling audiences with both his traditional and innovative performances. From accompanying all the great legends in the world of classical music to carving a name for himself in both the purist tradition as well as his innovative offerings like Shakti, Diga Rhythm band , Tabla beat science, Zakir has swept aside all competition and sweeped up awards and honors both national and international in his unending musical journey.Jet lagged after arriving from India, Zakir Hussain sat down for an exclusive interview with Little India.Your father left a farming family, roughed it out to follow his passion, and became a musical giant. How hard is it to carve a niche for yourself and how has your musical journey been as compared to his?I have still not carved my own niche. I am still my father’s son and I will always be, and I am very proud of that. I think a musician’s journey is never different from another’s. It is just that the area of visibility may be different. Every new generation brings an area of new visibility to an artist so in that case the main difference is that a major part of my journey was all over the world, including India, while a major part of his journey was in India. It is not as if I have done any thing different or that my tabla sounds different. It is different only because the stage is different. Today the world is my stage and I am recognized as a principal tabla player of India.So are you saying that you are not doing anything unique or different that has brought you the recognition that you have today?No swami or rishi today can tell you anything that has not been said before. It is just that it sounds different when somebody says something in a way that appeals to you or if he or she is confirming something, you already know or have thought about. We are talking about a 3,000-year-old history of music and musical tradition, and you are told to stick to that tradition, and not to be radical.I played the tabla for 20 years and no one took any notice, and I have not really changed my style of playing tabla. The attention that I have received today is because of the media, and the only thing that has changed is that I have been able to be out there in front of people of the world who have not heard this kind of music before and may be the way I look and my interaction with them and my way of explaining things to them may be easier for them to understand. So what was not visible to them earlier has become clear and people instantly start assuming that maybe I am doing something new.It is often said of you that though you have received your taleem in the purist tradition you are always open to trying out different things and are quite the adventurer. What makes you so open-minded?Because I am young and the world is my stage. Until my father’s time musicians performed mostly in India and had only that much area to work with. I was growing up at a time when the Indian film industry was developing and we grew up with the Beatles, and Elvis and Hollywood so my perception of our boundaries and how far we could stretch was different from my father’s.I heard you actually went to a Catholic School?I did and I have to thank my mother for it. In spite of being a strict Muslim, she did not limit me to the Arabic schools, but sent me to a Catholic school. Maybe she knew what was coming, who knows. My father would say why does he have to go to school? He is always going to play tabla, but having been educated, my views on what makes music are less defensive.Personally I think that a musician or for that matter every artist is an adventurer, so there is no inbuilt defense mechanism that stops you from exploring. After all the whole idea really is to take what already exists and explore ways by which to say it or make it look different and unique, and present it in such a way that it appeals to people. That is why we have Jesus and Prophet Mohammed. They all said the same thing but in their own unique way. That is also precisely, what Allah Rakha Khan and Ravi Shankarji and Bismillah Khan have done. They have said the same thing so differently in such a unique manner that people feel something wondrous has happened and that is the magic the person providing that knowledge is casting, through his own magnetism and inner vision. Therefore, I am not doing anything different. I am just able to package and present it in a way that people like to hear, but they did not hear me either for 20 long years. Now after having slaved and worked at it for that long a time, finally my audience and I are on the same wave length. This will go on for a while until they decide he is still saying the same thing and then they will look for someone else.Well it does not seem that people are tiring of you!It has lasted so long because of the power of the media, and lack of it is the only reason the legends of yesteryears have not been heard or seen that long. Superstar status allows you to linger on for a little while longer but unless you continue to deliver, you are always replaceable.Has the fact that non-Indians are so into classical art forms surprised you? There is also criticism that artists are getting jaded and are not fresh and creative anymore because of the fast pace and over booking of concerts.No, that craze was always there. In fact, it was maniacal during allah Rakha-Ravi Shankar days. Every body was going out to buy sitars and tablas and Nehru jackets and tie and dye stuff.I do not think artists are any less fresh, creative or innovative today. It just depends on whom you are talking to. People who grew up with Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Vilayat Khan, Bismillah Khan and such legends expect music to be a certain way and remain a certain way. It brings back memories of their youth. Therefore, when others are not like the people they grew up with, or are not playing music the way it was played then, that seems wrong. But then that is their view, and they do not want to go with the flow and the change. But when you listen to the young musicians like Shahid Parvez, Buddhaditya Mukherji, Rashid Khan you know there is genius at work here, that something incredible is happening and these people will be remembered as the legends of their times.I am sure a young Ravi Shankar, a young Ali Akbar Khan had to go through the same criticism, and I cannot imagine the music lovers of yesteryears not seeing that and appreciating that eventually.You said that there was no such thing as fusion music, and that what Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menhuin did was that one artist just played a piece composed by the other. You changed all that. Ravi ji of course says he does not like fusion music.Yes I did. My approach was that why should someone always have to play just my music and why should I think that my music is the music. Just as they are crossing over boundaries and coming over to play with me, I should also cross over and play with them. By learning their music, I can communicate better with them, in their own language and that is the reason why people like John McLaughlin understand western and Indian music so well. He and I we were able to cross over the boundaries that had been established earlier and educate each other. That is why Making Music is such a good album.Ravi Shankar did not venture into fusion because he was needed to establish Indian music and make people of the west understand what it was all about. That was the immense contribution of artists of his time – to lay the foundation, the platform upon which artists like me can bounce other things, and even cross over, because today our identity is set and we can innovate but we will never lose that base.Shakti, was an amazingly successful experiment in fusion, Diga Rhythm Band in rhythm fusion, and now Tabla Beat Science is yet another feather in your cap!Well that too was a natural progression. When the world does turn, new horizons appear, and there will be one among us who will stop and look and explore those new horizons, and Talvin Singh was one of those who did just that with techno, rave, electronica, and so we decided to explore and see as well. The DJs and techno artists were using Indian instrument samples to do their electronica music and so we thought why not just use real instruments and musicians and inject it with human warmth, making it more alive. That is how Tabla Beat Science came about and it has taken off. How great it will be or how long it will last remains to be seen, but if a great legend like 65 year old Ustad Sultan Khan can hook up into it and do stuff then it definitely has some validity to it.Our idea is to always try to come up with something that allows every aspect of art in the world to touch Indian art and see if something rubs of on each. If not we move on to try something new.Traditional music, fusion, techno, and now after giving music in films you have made your singing debut in Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, so what now?I still cannot say that the best I have played today is going to still be considered good enough tomorrow. There is nothing that I have done to this day that I can call the greatest triumph of my life and I have not played good enough to say I can quit now. I love performing live and am excited by an audience that is incredibly supportive and knows that each time we go on stage they will be an important part of the musical adventure, the exploration. When I came up with Shakti and Diga Rhythm Band there was no fusion or rhythm fusion, or even world music. We even won a Grammy for Planet Drum.So I feel fortunate that I was able to initiate some things that led to an understanding of music as one global entity and I want this to be a base for other musicians to take the musical adventure and the exploration a step further.   Related Itemslast_img read more

‘Squash team faces tough challenge’

first_imgThe Indian team is preparing hard mentally for the tough squash competition at the Commonwealth Games beginning at the Siri Fort Sports complex on October 4.Speaking to Mail Today, national coach Cyrus Poncha said: ” It is going to be tough. In fact, I would say all the leading squash countries England, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are strong teams and playing against them will be a challenging task for us.” He said that if Egypt was here, the competition would have been like a World Championships.On India’s chances of winning a medal, Poncha said that the best chance stood with the women doubles pair of Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa, who are seeded second.” They have beaten almost all the leading world doubles players in the last eight months,” he said.Poncha also added that the duo is ranked second as they had won a major doubles title at the Manchester International. ” The pair won a major doubles title in Manchester in March that is what helped them improve their world ranking.Also, they gained a lot of confidence from this title victory,” he said.Poncha now feels that the crowd support could prove to be a decisive factor for his wards at the event. ” I am counting on the crowd support. I personally believe that crowd support can make a major impact.So, we hope the team gets motivated by the home crowd support to make a difference here,” he said.He also said that in the men’s section, leading player Saurav Ghosal will have to fight hard to win.advertisement”He will have to play out of his skin as he is seeded 11th. He has to upset at least a couple of seeds to stay in hunt for winning a medal here,” he said.The Chennai- based coach also said that the presence of former world No. 1 Nick Mathew and world No. 6 James Willstrop of England has made the competition a hard nut to crack. “They are both great players and the Delhi’ites will have a great time watching them play,” he said.The women’s draw is also a tough one. World No. 1 Nicol David has been drawn in Joshna’s half and it makes it really tricky for the Indian. Dipika also said her task is cut out. She will be playing a seeded player as early as in the second round. That will only add to her pressure.Discussing the prospects of the doubles pairs, Cyrus feels the eighth seeded combine of Gaurav Nandrajog and Siddharth Suchde stood a good chance to making it to the semi- finals. “They have a fairly good understanding and can create a few upsets in the event,” he summed up.last_img read more

I am not in manager Antonio Conte’s plans at Chelsea, says Diego Costa

first_imgChelsea striker Diego Costa is looking for a move away from Stamford Bridge after being told by manager Antonio Conte that the 28-year-old is not part of his plans at the Premier League club, the Spain international has said.Costa scored 20 goals in 35 league appearances in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign last season amid local media speculation that he has an unfavourable relationship with the Italian manager.”Conte has sent me a message to tell me I am not in his plans for Chelsea,” Costa told reporters after Spain’s 2-2 draw against Colombia on Wednesday.”My relationship with the coach has been bad this season. It’s a shame, but it’s clear that the coach does not count on me and he does not want me there.”Costa, who was at Spanish side Atletico Madrid from 2010-14, wants a move back to the La Liga club but would have to wait for their transfer ban to end next January.His hopes of playing for Spain in next year’s World Cup in Russia would also depend on getting regular playing time.”Being five months without playing? I do not know, it’s complicated, but people know that I love Atletico a lot and that I love to live in Madrid,” Costa added.”It would be nice to go back, but it’s difficult to be four or five months without playing. It’s a World Cup year and there are many things to think about. I need to play, just that.”High-scoring Everton striker Romelu Lukaku has been linked with his former club Chelsea after the Belgian said he had decided where he wants to move ahead of the next season and had reached an agreement with another club.advertisementlast_img read more

Cricket has changed everything in Afghanistan in the last few years: Rashid Khan

first_imgAfghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan said that cricket has “changed everything” in the country over the last few years and that nothing makes people happier than watching their team doing well in cricket matches.Afghanistan, who have been placed in Group 2 along with teams like India, England and South Africa for the 2020 ICC T20 World Cup, had played in the prestigious tournament for the first time in 2010. Since then, they have shown significant improvement in their performance.”It feels good. People back home, they love cricket. It has changed everything in the country in the last five-six years. The young generation everyone’s following cricket, they love it. It means a lot that Afghanistan is participating in the World Cup,” ICC quoted Rashid, as saying.”(The fans) are loving it. They love the sport, they love cricket. (We players) just try and give 100 per cent in each and every competition. Everywhere, we try our best to give something to the people back home. I know what is happening, so there is nothing else that can bring such a smile on their faces,” he added.The right-arm bowler said that the World Cup tournament is going to be a “good experience” for them and that they would try and give their best in each and every game.”We – me, (Mohammad) Nabi, Mujeeb (Ur Rehman) – we just try and give our best in each and every game. The World Cup will be a good experience. Can’t wait for it,” Rashid said.Rashid has played a total of 35 T20Is and has picked up 64 wickets with an economy rate of 6.02. In 51 ODIs, he has scalped 118 wickets with an economy rate of 3.91.advertisementlast_img read more

Kia Seltos unveiled, expected to be priced between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 16 lakh

first_img Varun Singh New DelhiJune 20, 2019UPDATED: June 20, 2019 14:19 IST Kia Seltos will have 17-inch five-spoke dual-tone alloy wheels.HIGHLIGHTSPowering Kia Seltos will be a BSVI (BS6) compliant 1.4 turbo petrol engine.Seltos will have a tiger-nose grille with full LED headlamps on either side.The compact SUV will have a 10.25-inch touchscreen audio video navigation system.The much-anticipated Kia Seltos made its world premiere in India today. Scheduled to be launched in the country in the second half of 2019, the compact SUV will challenge the likes of Hyundai Creta, Nissan Kicks, Mahindra XUV500, Tata Harrier and MG Hector. Apart from Seltos, the South Korean carmaker will manufacture four new models in India.Kia Seltos will feature newly developed Smartstream third generation BS VI compliant powertrain. There will be an option for a 1.4 turbo petrol, along with other petrol and diesel engines. One will get multiple automatic transmission options like IVT, 7-speed DCT and 6-speed AT and a 6-speed manual gearbox. Besides, the compact SUV will come with normal, eco and sports drive modes.So far as features are concerned, there is plenty on offer. The front fascia will have the iconic tiger-nose grille with full LED headlamps on either side. The LED DRLs run towards the centre of the grille from the edges of the headlamps, which have turn indicators placed below them. You also get vertically housed LED fog lamps. The rear looks sporty with LED taillights and dual exhaust pipes. The bumper comes with a metallic muffler effect. Apart from 17-inch five-spoke dual-tone alloy wheels, there are features like roof rails and shark fin antenna.Inside the cabin of the new Kia Seltos, there will be features like a 10.25-inch touchscreen audio video navigation system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It will come with an 8-speaker Bose sound system. A three-spoke multifunction steering wheel will have premium quality switches for handling infotainment system and cruise control, among other functions. The compact SUV also gets features like 8-inch HUD (Heads Up Display), blind-spot view monitor, EPS (Electronic Power Steering), eco coating and push-button start/stop.advertisementThe upcoming Kia Seltos has an advanced high strength steel structure. Other than the standard safety features like multiple airbags, ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and BA (Brake Assist), reverse parking sensors and camera, the compact SUV also gets VSM (Vehicle Stability Management), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), TCS (Traction Control System) and HAC (Hill-start Assist Control). There will be a 360-degree camera as well.We are expecting Kia Seltos to be priced in India between Rs 10 lakh (ex-showroom) and Rs 16 lakh (ex-showroom). The compact SUV is based on the SP Concept, that we all saw during the 2018 Auto Expo.ALSO READ | Government proposes exemption of registration fees for battery operated electric vehiclesALSO READ | Transport vehicle driving licence now available to all, govt removes Class 8 pass clauseALSO READ | Renault Triber: Unveil, price, launch, features and other details you need to knowGet real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byVarun Singh Tags :Follow Kia Seltos unveilFollow Kia Seltos priceFollow Kia Seltos launchFollow Kia Seltos features Kia Seltos unveiled, expected to be priced between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 16 lakhUpcoming Kia Seltos has an advanced high strength steel structure. Apart from the standard safety features like multiple airbags, ABS with EBD and BA, reverse parking sensors and camera, the compact SUV also gets VSM (Vehicle Stability Management), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), TCS (Traction Control System) and HAC (Hill-start Assist Control).advertisement Nextlast_img read more

Stena Line Ferry in Near Miss with Royal Navy Submarine

first_imgzoomImage Courtesy: Stena Line A Stena Line ferry recently had a close quarters encounter with a nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine, according to the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).The company’s 30,285 gross ton Stena Superfast VII, which operates between Northern Ireland and Scotland, had a near miss with the submarine operating at periscope depth in the Irish Sea.Following a preliminary assessment, the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents decided to launch a full investigation into the incident, which occurred at the beginning of November 2018, MAIB said.Further details related to the event were not made available.“Stena Line can confirm that on Tuesday 6th Nov 2018, Stena Superfast VII and a submerged submarine came into close proximity during a scheduled crossing between Cairnryan and Belfast.  At no stage were the vessel, passengers or crew in any danger,” a spokesperson for Stena Line said in a statement to World Maritime News.“The incident was reported at the time to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and, following an initial assessment, a full safety investigation is now under way in which we will of course co-operate fully.”last_img read more

Fireworks barking Nunavut celebrates 20th birthday with optimism reservations

first_imgIQALUIT, Nunavut — Fireworks exploded over Frobisher Bay while sled dogs chained to the sea ice howled and barked in the new capital of Iqaluit the night Nunavut was born.The territory marks its 20th anniversary on Monday and Premier Joe Savikataaq says there are more fireworks to come.“We have lots of good-news stories,” he says, pointing with pride to a growing economy and a better-educated, more confident populace.But there’s plenty of barking, too.“We could have done a lot better,” says Madeleine Redfern, Iqaluit’s outspoken mayor, who worries about a growing gap between well-off Inuit and those left behind. Some, like Aluki Kotierk, head of the group that administers the Nunavut land claim, says the territory may no longer serve the interests of the people it was created for. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is considering self-government for Inuit, separate from the territory.“We think Inuit life would be in a much better position in terms of social, cultural and economic well-being if (the land claim) had been implemented effectively,” Kotierk says. “We’re taking an exercise to see what our options are.”Savikataaq’s economic optimism isn’t misplaced.Nunavut, with four mines either operating or expanding, has the fastest-growing economy in Canada. The Conference Board of Canada, calling it unprecedented, predicts nine per cent growth this year.Mines are located throughout the territory, spreading the benefits around. And although fewer Inuit work at those mines than hoped, renegotiated agreements have committed mining companies to spend millions on training and recruiting.School graduation rates are slowly climbing and over half the students who start school now complete it.Big-budget public works are opening the territory up.Iqaluit has a modern new airport and a deep-sea port is being built. Small-craft harbours in far-flung communities are creating opportunities for industries such as fishing, as well as making day-to-day life easier and safer.A healing-focused correctional facility has opened in Rankin Inlet. Health centres have been built in outlying communities. A long-awaited substance abuse treatment centre is finally promised for Iqaluit.A major Arctic research facility is operating in Cambridge Bay.But not all Inuit are along for the ride, says Redfern.Those who don’t fit in to English, southern-based education — Nunavut uses Alberta’s curriculum — or don’t have the skills to work in mining often face poverty, especially when housing subsidies for government employees inflate rents for everyone.“That’s a huge contributing factor — the cost of housing and the fact it’s gone up tremendously,” Redfern says.  Nunavut continues to face a tangled knot of interwoven social problems. Poverty, poor housing, ill health, unemployment and undereducation all feed into each other. This year, the territory needs about 3,300 housing units and plans to build 83.Even the language and culture that Nunavut was created to nurture is failing, Kotierk says. She describes the territory’s school dropout rate as a “push-out rate” as students reject classroom materials that don’t reflect them.Nunavummiut are still coping with the immense changes the last 50 years have brought, she says.“The expectation that Inuit should be able to get over it doesn’t help us. It’s unfair for a society that has gone through their own great changes in a much slower pace to expect us to be able to adjust as quickly as we do.”Still, Redfern says, the sun is slowly creeping over Nunavut’s horizon.“There’s so much activity that’s happening here — the fisheries sector, the arts sector … The main issue is seeing the work that needs to be done to ensure that those who are struggling are able to participate.”Savikataaq says Inuit are eager to catch up to development in southern Canada.“People are resilient and quite hopeful. When negative or bad stuff comes along, we just take it as it goes and say, ‘We’ll deal with this.’”Savikataaq recently went hunting near Arviat, hoping to bring home a caribou or two. He had just bought a new snowmobile and was giving it its first field test.It conked out.“My son had to put another snowmobile on a sled and drive 250 miles and come and exchange Ski-Doos.”  Savikataaq will get the faulty machine running. Maybe the territory he leads is much the same — balky at first, but with some work it’ll fly.“We have a lot of potential here,” he says.“We’re proud Canadians. We just want Canada to know that we’re a part of it.”— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow @row1960 on Twitter The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Two teens thought to be missing now suspects in 3 northern BC

first_imgVANCOUVER — RCMP say two British Columbia teenagers who were first thought to be missing are now considered suspects in the deaths of three people in northern B.C.Sgt. Janelle Shoihet says 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky are considered suspects in the deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler, his American girlfriend Chynna Deese and an unidentified man found a few kilometres from the teens’ burned-out vehicle.Shoihet says McLeod and Schmegelsky were last seen in northern Saskatchewan, driving a grey 2011 Toyota Rav 4.Shoihet says if anyone spots these teens, both six-foot-4 inches tall and weighing around 169 pounds, consider them dangerous and don’t approach, instead call 911.She says police initially thought the pair had been missing when their burned-out truck and camper was found a few kilometres from the body of the unidentified man near Dease Lake.Now, she says, investigators have new information that leads them to believe the teenagers are suspects in all three deaths.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Indigenous groups joining Quebecs student protest movement

first_imgAPTN National NewsThe streets of Montreal were filled with protestors again this week.It has been over 100 days since students in Quebec started protesting a proposed tuition hike.Hundreds of people have been arrested as students squared off against police.The response from the Quebec government hasn’t helped.As APTN National News reporter Danielle Rochette finds, new groups are now adding their voice to the protests.last_img

Markets Right Now Stocks inch higher in early trading

first_imgNEW YORK — The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local):9:35 a.m.Stocks are inching higher in early trading on Wall Street as fourth-quarter company earnings reports start to roll in.Delta Air Lines and First Republic Bank both rose early Tuesday after reporting results that were better than analysts were expecting. Delta climbed 2.8 per cent and First Republic gained 7.3 per cent.Netflix jumped 4.8 per cent after announcing higher pricing for its video-streaming plans.Sherwin-Williams slumped 5.2 per cent after the maker of paints and industrial coatings said it had a weak quarter.The S&P 500 rose 10 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 2,593.The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 35 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 23,949. The Nasdaq added 60 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 6,966.Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.69 per cent.The Associated Presslast_img read more

UN court starts deliberating in maritime dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras

23 March 2007The United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) has begun its deliberations in the dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras over the delineation of their maritime border in the Caribbean Sea after public hearings in the case ended today. Nicaragua brought proceedings against its Central American neighbour in 1999 at the ICJ, saying diplomatic negotiations over the disputed maritime boundary had failed, and asking the Court to rule on the boundary and determine which country has sovereignty over the islands and cays within the area of dispute.The dispute affects the territorial seas, the exclusive economic zones and the continental shelves of the two countries.The ICJ, which sits in The Hague, is a UN court that adjudicates disputes between States. In a press statement released today, the Court said it will deliver its judgement at a date to be determined. Public hearings in the matter began on 5 March and concluded today with the presentation of final submissions. read more

Nearly 1600 displaced Afghans return home this year with UN assistance

A total of 341 internally displaced families, consisting of 1,588 persons, have returned home in 2007 with the assistance of UNHCR and the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, Nilab Mobarez, Information Officer with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told reporters in Kabul today. In addition to those that returned to Balkh, internally displaced families have also returned to their homes in the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Farah. An additional 470 families – some 2,560 individuals – are expected to return to their homes in the coming weeks.Returning families receive free transportation to their final destination as well as relief supplies. Upon arriving home, they are provided with reintegration kits which include seeds and wheat flour from the UN World Food Programme (WFP).UNHCR estimates there are over 129,000 people still displaced within Afghanistan, most living in camp-like situations and in need of assistance.Since 2002, over half a million internally displaced persons have returned to their homes with the assistance of UNHCR, WFP and the Afghan government.Meanwhile, the UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan will be holding a workshop tomorrow in Kabul to address the rights and needs of mine victims and persons living with disabilities. The widespread and indiscriminate use of mines during more than two decades of conflict has turned Afghanistan into one of the world’s most heavily contaminated countries, according to the Centre, which has been coordinating mine action activities, such as surveys, mine and battlefield clearance, mine risk education and victim assistance on behalf of the Government since 1989.Mines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) kill or injure an average of two Afghans each day. 22 October 2007Over 100 internally displaced Afghan families have recently returned to their homes in Balkh province thanks to the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which, along with Government authorities, has aided the resettlement of nearly 1,600 internally displaced persons in the war-torn nation this year. read more

Waheed sends letter to MR

He said that both Sri Lanka and the Maldives enjoy strong ties and President Rajapaksa was very supportive of the new Maldivian government. Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed Hassan sent a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa today through Maldivian Vice President Mohamed Waheeduddin, a Maldivian official said today.Speaking to The Sunday Leader following a press briefing in Colombo today Dr. Ananda Kumarasiri, an advisor to the Maldivian government, said that the Maldivian President had conveyed to President Rajapaksa his appreciation over President Rajapaksa taking a neutral stand on the issue in the Maldives. Meanwhile speaking to reporters at the press briefing, the Maldives High Commissioner in Colombo, Hussain Shihab, said that the visit of the Maldivian Vice President to Sri Lanka was part of a courtesy call being made by the new Maldives government. The High Commissioner also said that the situation in the Maldives has now improved and the country was calm. read more

Raising humanitarian concerns UN official stresses need to avoid worsening of Gaza

“We really hope that a ground offensive will not happen, because – among many other things – it will also cause a lot of humanitarian problems,” said the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Filippo Grandi.The latest wave of violence – which includes rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza, and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza – began on 14 November. A chorus of UN officials, beginning with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have appealed for an end to the violence and strongly urged the parties to achieve an immediate ceasefire.That appeal was echoed by Mr. Grandi, who met with refugees living in Gaza, and spoke to staff at a distribution centre which was badly damaged in airstrikes in the town of Jabalia. The centre was subsequently repaired by staff to enable food distributions to thousands of refugees.Home to nearly 1.7 million people, Gaza is a small but densely populated area, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2006 and suffers from a faltering economy and rampant poverty.Speaking at a press encounter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem earlier today, Mr. Ban stated his immediate concern is for the safety and well-being of all civilians, in Israel and in Gaza. “Rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel must cease immediately,” he said, while also calling on Israel to exercise maximum restraint. “I strongly cautioned against a ground operation, which will only result in further tragedy. “I have also stressed that while Israeli rockets may be aimed at military targets inside Gaza, they kill and injure civilians and damage civilian infrastructures. The loss of civilian lives is unacceptable under any circumstances.”The UN chief noted that innocent people, including children, are being killed and injured on both sides, and appealed to all those commanding, bearing and operating arms to respect international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times.The Secretary-General arrived in Israel following talks in Cairo with officials of the Egyptian Government and the League of Arab States. He is scheduled to travel next to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with the head of the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas.UN agencies are also sounding the alarm on the humanitarian impact of the ongoing violence. “On both sides of the border, the children are worst affected – scarred for the rest of their lives by the raining bullets and bombs,” stated the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Terrified by the sounds of air raid sirens, children in southern Israel and Tel Aviv run into shelters several times a day to escape death,” it added in a news release. “In Gaza, many sleep in the cold. Windows are left open for fear of injury from glass shards if windows are blown by explosions. Trapped by the six-year blockade and poverty, they have nowhere to go.”Most UNICEF activities in Gaza are suspended due to insecurity, but five UNICEF-supported emergency psychosocial teams are visiting children and families affected by the violence in their homes or at hospitals whenever conditions permit.The agency added that medical supplies to treat severely injured patients are urgently needed. Plastic sheeting to seal broken windows, fuel to run generators for hospitals and water and sanitation facilities, and chlorine for water treatment plants are scarce.“Let us not forget that children across Gaza need support more than ever before. In this climate of uncertainty, and in light of its commitments to the Palestinian people, the UN and its agencies have a responsibility to mitigate a humanitarian crisis,” said UNICEF’s Special Representative for the occupied Palestinian territory, Jean Gough.Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) was scheduled to begin food distributions for more than 30,000 people to prevent the conflict from deepening hunger in Gaza, which is already a food-insecure area.WFP is also planning to provide emergency rations to some 350 families whose homes were destroyed during recent attacks. They will receive bread as well as canned foods for an initial period of 10 days.“We are deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza and will continue to assist the most vulnerable households, many of whom have been affected by the violence,” said WFP’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territories, Pablo Recalde.WFP has enough food in its Gaza warehouses to cover the food needs of 285,000 people, about 60 per cent of the non-refugee population, for one month. It has enough food outside of the area to last its residents another two months if necessary. However, access to Gaza is challenging even under normal circumstances, noted the agency, which is concerned about its ability to continue reaching those in need should the conflict escalate. read more

Looming famine in Yemen could put two million mothers at risk of

“Lack of food, displacement, poor nutrition, disease outbreaks and eroding healthcare have heavily affected the health and well-being of 1.1 million malnourished pregnant and lactating women, causing numerous cases of premature or low-birth weight babies, severe postpartum bleeding, and extremely life-threatening labor processes,” UNFPA warned, adding that if the situation continues to deteriorate, up to two million mothers could end up being affected. Since conflict escalated in Yemen in 2015 between non-state armed groups and a Saudi-led coalition in support of the Government, constant shelling and bombing has destroyed key civilian infrastructure across the country. Although targeting medical facilities is strictly forbidden under humanitarian law, nearly half of the health facilities are no longer operational, including those established to provide reproductive health services. As a result, many of these women go undiagnosed and untreated.This past August, for example, Al Thawra, Al Hudaydah’s largest hospital – the only hospital of the area which provides critical neo-natal and emergency care – was attacked, putting the city’s almost 90,000 pregnant women and girls at great risk.  “I felt I was in hell because of what I saw,” said midwife Noha, who was working at the hospital’s obstetric ward when the attack took place on 2 August. “Now pregnant women prefer to give birth at home, where they are exposed to many risks and problems. They do not come to the hospital out of fear for their lives,” she explained.The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is the worst in the world, with three quarters of the population requiring some form of life-saving assistance and protection, according to the UN’s humanitarian coordination office (OCHA). The conflict has rendered civilians’ access to food increasingly difficult through a combination of factors, including unprecedented inflation, import controls, and limited freedom of movement.“There is now a clear and present danger of an imminent and great big famine engulfing Yemen: much bigger than anything any professional in this field has seen during their working lives,” UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council last week.Although the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is one of the world’s best funded crises, with 71 per cent of the 2018 appeal funded to date, the needs continue to grow and outpace the response. Working with limited funding, UNFPA’s support to the 184 health facilities that offer reproductive health services may stop if additional resources do not become available urgently. read more

Titlechaser Liverpool comes from behind to sink Burnley

BURNLEY, England — Juergen Klopp had to bring rested stars off the bench to ensure Liverpool came from behind to beat Burnley 3-1 in the Premier League on Wednesday and move back within two points of leader Manchester City.After Liverpool gambled by making seven changes, Jack Cork put Burnley ahead in the 54th minute.James Milner equalized in the 62nd and Klopp sent on Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, who converted from close range within four minutes of his arrival.Xherdan Shaqiri completed the scoring in stoppage time as Liverpool maintained its unbeaten start to the league campaign.Klopp’s big call was in making sweeping changes from the derby win over Everton, giving Sunday’s match-winner Divock Origi his first Premier League start since May 2017. That was also the last time Liverpool started without attacking trio Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane, who was out injured.___More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press read more

Vernon Philander Wins SA Cricketer of the Year

After a record-breaking season in which he captured 51 wickets in his first seven test matches, Vernon Philander was the big winner at the Cricket South Africa awards gala in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening.The Cape Cobras’ seamer lifted the prestigious South African Cricketer of the Year Award, and also received awards as Test Cricketer of the Year and the Fans’ Cricketer of the Year.Only Australia’s Charlie Turner reached 50 test wickets faster than Philander, but he played way back in 1888, in a time when scores were far lower and bowlers far more favored by pitches than they are today.Despite playing just those seven tests, he ranks seventh in International Cricket Council’s test bowling rankings. His test average is a miserly 14.15.ODI Player of the YearAB de Villiers was named ODI Player of the Year for the second time in succession after tallying 475 runs in eight games, including two centuries, at an astonishing average of 158.33 and a strike rate of 116.13.He also picked up an award decided upon by his peers when he was announced as the Players’ Player of the Year.Richard Levi won the CSA International T20 Cricketer of the Year and the KFC “So Good” awards, thanks to his stunning innings against New Zealand in Hamilton in February in which he struck a world-record equaling 117 not out. His runs came off only 51 balls, with a world record 13 sixes and five fours.Fast bowler Marchant de Lange, who captured 7 for 81 against Sri Lanka in Durban on his test debut, was named the Newcomer of the Year.Domestic awards winnersThe SuperSport Series Cricketer of the Year award went the way of Alviro Petersen, who played his way into the Proteas’ test line-up, while Faf du Plessis was named the Domestic Players’ Player of the Year.Matthew Maynard of the Titans was named Coach of the Year after leading the franchise to victory in the SuperSport Series and Twenty20 competitions.Earlier in the day, Shandre Fritz was named the Women’s Cricketer of the Year.Ewie Cronje, the father of the late Hansie Cronje, received a special lifetime achievement award for his years of service to Free State cricket. Under Cronje’s guidance, the province became a leading cricketing power in the country after having been mired in B-division cricket for decades.World rankingsA quick check on the health of South African cricket by looking at the latest ICC Player Rankings indicates that the country’s cricketers are doing very well.Among test batsmen, De Villiers ranks second, just ahead of Jacques Kallis, with Hashim Amla in ninth place.Dale Steyn enjoys a healthy lead among test bowlers, with Philander in seventh spot.Amla and De Villiers are ranked one and two among ODI batsmen, while Lonwabo Tsotsobe is in first place among ODI bowlers, with Morne Morkel in third position.Source: Southafrica.info read more

Baseball Ohio State faces crucial Big Ten road test against Maryland

Ohio State junior infielder Conner Pohl (39) runs toward third base after a home run during the game against Michigan on April 12. Ohio State won 10-5. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorThis weekend poses the red-hot Ohio State baseball team with an opportunity to climb the Big Ten ladder and produce fireworks with its bats.Ohio State (21-17, 4-5 Big Ten) will travel to take on Maryland (18-19, 5-4 Big Ten) in a pivotal series for conference positioning. The Buckeyes will take their recent winning ways and big bats up against the struggling Terrapins. “We got a big series in Maryland this weekend to climb the standings in the Big Ten,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. In order to improve their Big Ten record, the Buckeyes will look to keep their bats hot against a Maryland squad susceptible to the long ball.The Terrapins have surrendered 42 home runs this season; the weekend starters have contributed 15 to this total. The Buckeyes have launched 36 home runs on the season. Over the past six games, Ohio State has hit a homer eight times and scored an average of 7.33 runs per contest.“Everybody is just calm and relaxed right now, and it is a really good feeling going into the weekend,” Ohio State junior right fielder Dominic Canzone said. Maryland will come into the weekend on a two-game losing streak. The Terrapins will turn to their best pitcher on Friday to try to get out of their recent rut. Senior pitcher Hunter Parsons has excelled for Maryland. The Friday starter has a 2.95 ERA and has averaged more than seven innings pitched per start. Parsons has a 6-2 record on the season and a 3.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Senior John Murphy has made a team-high 16 appearances and has a 3.66 ERA with seven saves. He has struck out 31 batters in only 19.2 innings of work. On the offensive side, the Terrapins have struggled to find consistent hitting. The team is hitting a combined .235 batting average, while having only one player hitting above .275. Maryland freshman first baseman Maxwell Costes has carried the torch for the offense. Costes leads the team with a .281 batting average, and also has 30 RBI and six home runs on the year. Maryland, like Ohio State, has the ability to hit the long ball. The Terrapins have hit 37 home runs, but the Ohio State pitching staff has only allowed 22 home runs on the year. The Buckeyes have settled in these past six games. After dropping five consecutive games, they have responded by winning five of their past six. “I think we are moving in the right direction, and just keep that momentum going as much as we can,” redshirt senior senior pitcher Thomas Waning said. Ohio State will open the series against Maryland Friday at 6:30 p.m. in College Park, Maryland. This will be followed by a 2 p.m. game Saturday and a 1 p.m. finale on Sunday. read more

Thousands of plastic bodyboards wash up on Britains beaches every year

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Keep Britain Tidy has launched a campaign against plastic bodyboards after figures reveal 16,000 are found in the sea around Britain every year.The eco-campaigners have warned about the danger of plastic pollution caused by the boards that are mainly shipped in from China and sell for as little as £5.They break up easily and are so cheap they are viewed as disposable, often left on beaches to be washed into the sea.But they are made from a block of polystyrene wrapped in plastic cloth, and are often transported thousands of miles across the world.During just one day environmental organisation BeachCare collected more than 600 alone on Cornish beaches.Neil Hembrow, from Keep Britain Tidy, who has been working to raise awareness of the harm caused by the “single-use” plastic boards, said it was time action was taken.He said: “A lot of them are used for surfing down the sand dunes. They are left by the bins or left on the beach.”We estimate that there are thousands and thousands of them distributed in Cornwall and Devon each year.”These cheap boards have been put in a cargo ship and sent across the world to be basically buried or burnt after five minutes use. “Some of the ones we found were still in their shrink wrap.”We want to send a message to consumers to rent or buy something decent. Surf shops should make it as cheap as possible to rent these boards.”The consumers we spoke to weren’t aware of the scale of the problem. Once they saw 600 boards piled up on the beach people were shocked.”We are not here to spoil people’s fun when they come down to the south west.”We want them to make a choice that is good for them, good for the sea and good for the environment.” read more