Virus lockdowns stifle Eid celebrations around the world as infections rise

first_imgMuslims around the world began marking a sombre Eid al-Fitr Sunday, many under coronavirus lockdown, but lax restrictions offer respite to worshippers in some countries despite fears of skyrocketing infections.The festival, one of the most important in the Muslim calendar marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is traditionally celebrated with mosque prayers, family feasts and shopping for new clothes, gifts and sweet treats.But this year, the celebration is overshadowed by the fast-spreading respiratory disease, with many countries tightening lockdown restrictions after a partial easing during Ramadan led to a sharp spike in infections. Further dampening the festive spirit, multiple countries — from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Turkey and Syria — have banned mass prayer gatherings, a festival highlight, to limit the spread of the disease.Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, began a five-day, round-the-clock curfew from Saturday after infections more than quadrupled since the start of Ramadan to around 68,000 –- the highest in the Gulf.Eid prayers will be held at the two holy mosques in the cities of Mecca and Medina “without worshippers”, authorities said on Saturday, citing a royal decree.Mecca’s Grand Mosque has been almost devoid of worshippers since March, with a stunning emptiness enveloping the sacred Kaaba — a large cube-shaped structure towards which Muslims around the world pray. Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, will reopen to worshippers only after Eid, its governing body said.In Lebanon, the highest Sunni religious authority has announced the reopening of mosques only for Friday prayers. Worshippers, however, will be subject to temperature checks and sanitary controls before they enter.Fears of ‘new peak’Meanwhile, Muslims across Asia — from Indonesia to Pakistan, Malaysia and Afghanistan — thronged markets for pre-festival shopping, flouting coronavirus guidelines and sometimes even police attempts to disperse large crowds.”For over two months my children were homebound,” said Ishrat Jahan, a mother of four, at a bustling market in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi.”This feast is for the kids, and if they can’t celebrate it with new garments, there is no point in us working so hard throughout the year.”Pakistan, which gave into religious pressure by allowing mosque prayers throughout the fasting of Ramadan, is yet to make a decision over mass gatherings during Eid.In Indonesia –- the world’s most populous Muslim nation — people are turning to smugglers and fake travel documents to get around bans on the annual end-of-Ramadan travel that could send infections soaring. More than 3,500 Tunisians who travelled home just ahead of the holiday will have to spend it away from their families, forced to quarantine for two weeks in hotels after arriving from abroad.Atef Maherzi, a doctor repatriated Tuesday from Saudi Arabia, said she would be catching up with family over Skype, foregoing her usual role of host.”Usually, I’m the mistress of the house, but this time, my husband will receive the guests alone.”The COVID-19 death tolls across the Middle East and Asia have been lower than in Europe and the United States, but numbers are rising steadily, sparking fears the virus may overwhelm often underfunded healthcare systems.Iran, which has experienced the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak, has called on its citizens to avoid travel during Eid as it battles to control infection rates.Iran shut schools and places of worship and banned inter-city travel for the Persian New Year holidays in March, but the restrictions were recently eased.Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that the country was focusing hard on avoiding “new peaks of the disease” caused by people “not respecting health regulations”.The exact date of Eid has yet to be set in the Shiite-majority country, but will likely be Monday, in line with the Shiite community’s celebrations in Iraq, as announced by top cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.Sunnis in Iraq will mark the start of the festival on Sunday.’Comedy night’The neighbouring United Arab Emirates has tightened its lockdown, with the night-time curfew starting at 8:00 p.m. instead of 10:00 p.m. during Ramadan. But that has not stopped some families from planning getaways to luxury beachfront hotels in Ajman or Ras Al-Khaimah emirates.However, Muslims in many countries are set for frugal celebrations amid growing financial distress.The twin shocks of coronavirus restrictions and falling oil prices have plunged the region into the worst economic crisis in decades.The coronavirus restrictions have hit businesses hard, including retailers who would normally be preparing for the festive rush, as Muslims save their money for masks, gloves and other COVID-19 protective gear.In the Syrian capital Damascus, Eid shoppers rummaged through flea markets for clothes at bargain prices as the war-ravaged and sanctions-hit country grapples with a much more entrenched economic crisis.”The flea market is the only place I can buy something new to wear for the Eid holidays,” 28-year-old Sham Alloush told AFP.”Had it not been for this place, I wouldn’t have been able to buy new clothes at all.”But promising some laughs in these dire times, 40 Muslim comedians from across the world will host a virtual show on Sunday called “The Socially Distant Eid Comedy Night”.”This Ramadan has been particularly difficult for communities around the world,” said Muddassar Ahmed, head of the Concordia Forum, the organizer of the event.”We’re proud to be pulling together some of the brightest Muslim comedic talent to entertain those celebrating the Eid festival at home, people looking to learn a little bit about Muslim culture, or really anyone in need of a good laugh.”Topics :last_img read more

Arsenal’s Kieren Tierney making good progress on return from shoulder injury

first_img Metro Sport ReporterSaturday 8 Feb 2020 4:51 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link2.8kShares Advertisement Kieran Tierney is nearing a return to full fitness for Arsenal (Picture: Getty Images)Kieran Tierney is nearing a return to fitness as he takes part in training on Arsenal’s training camp in Dubai over the winter break.The 22-year-old has struggled with injury since arriving from Celtic in the summer, making just five Premier League appearances for the Gunners so far.He last started a game on 9 December against West Ham, but suffered a dislocated shoulder and has not featured since.The Scotland international looks to be closing in on a return after being pictured sprinting and training with the ball in Dubai, after doing the same at Arsenal’s training centre at London Colney at the end of last month.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTThe last injury update from the club on the left-back was that he was unlikely to return to full training until March after undergoing an operation on his shoulder in December.He will be hoping to be back quicker than this, but although he is back running and playing with the ball, he has not been seen in contact with other players in training.Arsenal’s head of performance Shad Forsythe told Arsenal.com that he expects Tierney to be fully match fit as soon as his shoulder will allow him to play.‘We have Kieran Tierney who’s rehabbing a shoulder injury so there’s quite a few things Kieran can do with the team, with the ball as long as he’s not really in contact right now so it’s really important we have our whole staff and team here together to bring all the players that we can to be here together as well,’ said Forsythe.‘The great thing, if there ever is a great thing about having a shoulder injury verse a lower limb injury in football is that we run.‘Kieran’s probably going to come back in very, very fit and in shape from a running perspective because he’s been doing tonnes of running or different patterns, ball work, things for his position specifically and also talking to Mikel [Arteta] and the coaches and building things that’ll have him ready to step in and perform in his position.’More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityArsenal are back in action after the winter break at home to Newcastle on 16 February, and that will come too soon for the former Celtic man.Gunners boss Mikel Arteta could welcome back two other full-back options in that contest, though, with Cedric Soares and Sead Kolasinac returning from injury.Soares arrived on loan from Southampton in the January transfer window and is likely to be back from the knee problem he has been struggling with, while Kolasinac has been hampered with a thigh strain, but should return against the Magpies.Reiss Nelson should also be available for that game, but it is unclear to the extent of Bukayo Saka’s problem after suffering hip and knee complaints last time out.MORE: Gary Anderson ready for ‘weeks of hell’ as the PDC tour kicks into gearMORE: Scott Mitchell is taking on the world of darts this year as he plots PDC, BDO and WDF success Commentcenter_img Advertisement Arsenal’s Kieren Tierney making good progress on return from shoulder injurylast_img read more

PNO Media to base pension premium on age of companies’ workers

first_imgPNO Media is to begin drawing contributions for its defined benefit pension plans from the average age of participating companies’ workers rather than charge an average contribution per worker.With the move, the €5bn, non-mandatory sector-wide scheme said hoped to prevent its participating companies from shifting their pension arrangements to insurers that base premiums on workers’ average age by default.As a result, smaller companies with predominantly younger workers will pay substantially lower contributions, according to Nelly Altenburg, the scheme’s chair, and Jeroen van der Put, director at MPD, the pension fund’s provider. Altenburg said companies with a relatively high proportion of older workers would see their premiums increase but only in phases and by no more than 1 percentage point next year. PNO Media will also begin offering the option of individual or collective defined contribution (DC) arrangements, considering DC plans as “essential” to attracting new companies.Van der Put said the collective DC plan would be variable and that the accrued pension’s level would be determined annually.“If the pension becomes more expensive, the accrual percentage will be lowered,” he said.Altenburg said PNO Media aimed to add 5,000 new participants to the current number of 15,000 over the next three years.The pension fund, which boasts 450 member companies, is the second industry-wide scheme in the Netherlands to add DC plans to its DB arrangements, with the €20bn sector scheme PGB recently confirming that it would expand its offering.last_img read more

Dutch regulator warns of €97bn ‘water scarcity’ risk

first_imgThe Dutch regulator warned investors about companies with exposure to raw materialsDNB also found that pension funds had invested €56bn in companies dependent on “critical” commodities that were vital to the European economy.“Due to scarcity or geopolitical factors, the supply of these raw materials may be jeopardised,” DNB said. “This can affect financial institutions that invest in companies that depend on these raw materials.”Such commodity-related investments represented more than 9% of pension funds’ securities holdings, it said.Based on a sample survey of 25 financial companies, including 10 pension funds, DNB concluded that most of them could improve integration of their sustainability goals into their operational management.Although all surveyed organisations had a sustainability policy, only four regularly analysed their portfolios for social and ecological risk, the regulator found.DNB advised financial groups to carry out analysis to prevent reputational risk as a possible result of unfulfilled expectations or broken promises.However, it highlighted that it did not advise against taking risks.“For example, by managing water scarcity risk rather than divesting holdings, it is possible to both limit the risk and achieve an impact,” the regulator said. Dutch regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) has urged pension funds to map out social and ecological risks to their investments and minimise underlying problems if necessary.In a report published this week, DNB explored the potential financial risks posed by a number of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues, including water and commodities scarcity, loss of biodiversity, and disputes about human rights.According to the regulator, Dutch pension funds, insurers and banks had combined investments of €97bn in companies operating in areas with an “extreme high water scarcity”.“When this scarcity turns into a shortage, corporate facilities can only function limitedly at best,” it said, adding that local authorities could also tighten regulation for water usage. DNB reported that the €97bn of assets comprised €83bn of equity holdings, 94% of which was owned by pension funds.The watchdog cited a World Bank survey suggesting that, without adequate measures against water scarcity, economic output in some areas could drop by more than 6% by 2050.It also highlighted that the Australian economy shrank by 1% last year after a prolonged period of drought, while the Indian government shut down a Coca-Cola plant in 2014 for using too much groundwater.last_img read more

Rodgers prepares for annual review

first_img And adding to the feeling of a more routine nature to the visit is the fact Werner is in England to attend the Premier League’s AGM, which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday this week. Rodgers has had annual reviews of the season since he was appointed three years ago today and he is due to sit down for the third instalment with Mike Gordon, owners Fenway Sports Group’s key man at Anfield, for a “robust and thorough” examination of the previous 10 months. The Reds boss has had regular contact with the club’s American-based owners throughout the season and Werner’s visit is likely to just be an extension of that dialogue, even if the questions are slightly more uncomfortable after Rodgers missed out on FSG’s minimum target of Champions League football by finishing sixth. News that Jurgen Klopp, one of the names touted as a possible replacement, is to take a break after leaving Borussia Dortmund has further strengthened the short-term position of Rodgers, who only signed a new four-year contract 12 months ago after almost winning the title. Press Association Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will meet chairman Tom Werner as part of his end-of-season review this week, with the American’s arrival on Merseyside imminent. center_img Despite a disappointing campaign, which culminated with the 6-1 defeat at Stoke on the final day of the season, the club have maintained the manager’s position is not under immediate threat. Although Werner is due to arrive on Tuesday, Press Association Sport understands principal owner John W Henry will not be accompanying him. last_img read more

Ellsworth native Alexander set to build on racing career after winning Valvoline grand prize

first_img Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Bio Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all) Latest Posts Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at mmandell@ellsworthamerican.com.center_img Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020 ELLSWORTH — Ever since he’s been old enough to walk, it’s been next to impossible to keep Wyatt Alexander away from the race track.Over the course of his racing career, Alexander, who graduated from Ellsworth High School in 2017, has gone from racing go-karts to legends cars to super late models. After winning a recent nationwide contest, Alexander will have even more resources at his disposal as he makes his way to tracks across America.Alexander was named winner of the Valvoline Fast Track to Fame Contest on July 17. He beat out over 800 other finalists nationally to win a prize of $10,000 cash and $40,000 worth of supplies courtesy of Valvoline.“It’s really special to get such a great gift from Valvoline to help my family race team like this,” Alexander said. “I got a lot of support from so many people, and we’ll be able to do some really great things.”A younger Wyatt Alexander poses for a photo with a legends car. Alexander began racing go-karts at age 4 before moving up to race legends cars and super late models. Now a mechanical engineering major at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, he keeps two current cars, both Chevrolet super late models, in his father’s garage at K and B Automotive in Ellsworth.WYATT ALEXANDER PHOTOThis is placeholder textThis is placeholder textAlexander was made aware of the contest a few months into his freshman year at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He then began compiling an entry with his racing background and pictures of him racing on local speedways in Hermon, Wiscasset and Scarborough and dozens of others throughout New England and the United States over the course of his young life.“They posted the contest requirements online back in the late fall, and my dad emailed me and called me about it and told me I should think about entering it,” Alexander said. “A few weeks later, I checked out the process and knew I wanted to get involved in it.”Alexander was required to submit a bio of 300-500 words explaining his affinity for the sport and why he would be a worthy prize winner. In his essay, he wrote about his family race team, Wyatt Alexander Racing, and how love for the sport took him from racing go-karts at the age of 4 to studying mechanical engineering in North Carolina, a state where passion for racing runs deep.Earlier this summer, voters got the chance to vote for each of the 800 racers who applied for the $50,000 prize. The top 10 vote-getters were then narrowed down to four finalists based on whom the contest judges deemed most worthy, and Alexander made both cuts.“I had everybody back home in Maine and my new friends at college here in North Carolina voting for my every day,” Alexander said. “It felt even better to advance to that last four because it showed that I had awesome support from my friends and family and that the judges really liked my story.”The final round of voting pitted Alexander against Morgan Ward of Watertown, S.D., Jonathan McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass., and John Baker of French Lick, Ind. Voters were allowed to vote for each finalist once per day on the Valvoline website between mid-May and early July.Valvoline officials didn’t give Alexander the exact vote total but did inform him he had narrowly edged out Ward to win the contest. He would have received a prize of some sort of no matter what as a finalist, but winning provided him with a much more valuable package than the $7,000 one he would have received for coming in second.“I was hoping I could pull it out, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy because you had all four contestants having their family members and friends vote like crazy,” Alexander said. “It was an awesome feeling when they told me I won.”2018 marked the first year of the Fast Track to Fame contest, which Valvoline tailored to racers who from “asphalt, dirt, motorcycle, snow and variety of other classifications.” In the company’s eyes, Alexander, who had received the required 50 votes from 50 unique voters in the first round and impressed the final judging panel with his entry, was a worthy winner.“This program was an opportunity to show our continued support for motorsports and those who live the ‘Never Idle’ mantra that Valvoline is rooted in,” Valvoline Sports Marketing and Entertainment Executive Travis Montgomery said. “We were looking for someone with grit, passion and drive, and there is no doubt we found those qualities and more in Wyatt.”Although Alexander had yet to receive the prize as of this past weekend, he still made the trip from Charlotte to Ellsworth to work on his two Chevrolet super late models. When he does receive his prize, he’ll put it to good use with his fellow race team members: his father, Brett, and his grandfather, Bob.“I have a couple things in mind, but it’s probably going to take me a little time before I really make my mind up,” Alexander said. “There’s a lot of opportunities with the money and supplies they gave me, and my family and friends made it possible. I can’t thank everybody enough.” MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020last_img read more

Phillips, Bright stand out at Super Champs

first_imgKENISHA Phillips of the Guyana Defence Force returned Onasha Rogers to her second-fiddle position in the youth 100m and 200m, after she dominated the Lindener last Saturday.However, it was a good day for Linden’s Chantoba Bright as she cleared season’s best jumps in the triple and long jump events.Last Saturday’s Super Champs track meet at the at the National Track and Field Centre in Leonora, saw the athletes from Guyana’s CARIFTA Games team take on the other clubs, and several of the athletes from the 12-man team gave promising performances.Overall Lindeners continued to shine in the competition, with Phillips being the only Georgetown athlete to produce a SB.After losing to Rogers two weeks ago at the AAG Classic II, Phillips seemed intent on making her comeback. For the girls’ Under-17 100m she dashed to an 11.84 seconds SB, overtaking the 11.98 seconds from Rogers, who is also on the CARIFTA team, also clocked an SB time.In the 200m she won that race in 24.64 seconds to the 24.80 seconds from Rogers.Over in the jumps, Bright literally had no competition, but she didn’t need any to produce an outstanding performance. In the long jump she cleared 6.01m, her first time getting past 6m since she cleared 6.09m last year September. In the triple jump she made it to 12.59m.Matthew McKenzie was also without competition in the 5000m, where he finished in 17:15.24s.Christianburg’s Compton Caesar continued to rule the men’s 100m, though he clocked 10.59 seconds last Saturday. It was good enough to overshadow the 10.64 seconds from GDF’s Rupert Perry.He and Upper Demerara’s Daniel Williams took the top two spots in the men’s 200m clocking 21.51 seconds and 21.82 seconds respectively.Williams’ high jump performance continued at a steady 1.90m, as he took the win in the boys’ Under-17 jump. Tremaine Browne only made it to 6.61m in the long jump, while in the triple jump he cleared 13.41m.In other performances from the CARIFTA team, Samuel Lynch did well to continue in the 800m, where he produced a 1:57.88s timings, while Claudrice McKoy finished her 1500m in 4:41.17s.last_img read more

Friendship All Stars, Agricola Red Triangle and Grove Hi Tech are latest winners

first_imgA HELMET-TRICK from Grove Hi Tech’s Rasheed Evans and a hat-trick from Romeo Bradford of Diamond United were the highlights of the latest round of play in the GFF/NAMILCO Thunderbolt Flour Power U-17 League played at the GFF Facility, Providence, EBD.Evans’ exploits led Grove Hi Tech to a comfortable 6-0 win over Swan FC; he found the back of the nets in the 12th, 19th, 39th and 47th minutes. Tucking in one apiece were Jomal Thom in the 23rd and Orwin Hunte in the 45th minute.Anthony Ifill (left) and Ryan Roberts of Agricola Red Triangle FCFriendship All Stars needled Soesdyke All Stars, thanks to Marlon Dey’s strike in the 34th minute. Goals from Anthony Ifill in the 8th minute and Ryan Roberts in the 38th minute were good enough to deliver full points for Agricola Red Triangle over Timehri Panthers Sports Club ‘B’, who got their consolation goal from Akel Grant-Stuart in the 56th minute.Samatta Point/Kaneville and Diamond United battled to a mouthwatering 4-4 draw. Samatta Point scored through Dasul Garraway who was on the score sheet twice (13th, 74th) with one each off the boots of Shawn Moseley (41) and Jadon Forte, one minute later.Romeo Bradford took on Samatta Point team almost single-handedly as he fired in three goals in the 22nd, 39th and 46th minutes with the other coming off the boot of Corwin Griffith in the 19th minute.Matches will continue this weekend at the same venue with double-headers tomorrow and Sunday. Timehri Panthers ‘A’ will open against Swan from 13:00hrs on tomorrow with the second match between Mocha Champs and Timehri Panthers ‘B’ from 15:00hrs.On Sunday at the same time, Soesdyke Falcons will come up against Grove Hi Tech, followed by a clash between Agricola Red Triangle and Samatta Point/Kaneville.last_img read more

‘The new Cold War’

first_imgDavid Kang, director of the Korean Studies Institute at USC, speaks at the Liberty of North Korea (LiNK) meeting Monday.  He described the current situation between North and South Korea as “the new Cold War” because of the tension between the two countries, but doubts North Korea will experience a revolution like those in Libya.Jennifer Schultz | Daily Trojanlast_img

Speak out

first_imgVincent Vigil, director of the LGBT Student Resource Center, facilitates a discussion with students and alumni at the Latino Queer Story event, where speakers talked  about their coming-out experiences. The event featured Sandra Valls, who was named one of Curve Magazine’s Top-10 lesbian comics.Laura Walsh | Daily Trojanlast_img