WhatsApp blocks accounts of at least seven Gaza Strip journalists Help by sharing this information News News to go further May 28, 2021 Find out more RSF asks ICC prosecutor to say whether Israeli airstrikes on media in Gaza constitute war crimes Follow the news on Palestine PalestineMiddle East – North Africa News PalestineMiddle East – North Africa RSF_en Organisation June 3, 2021 Find out more Receive email alerts February 4, 2008 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Hamas frees journalist after holding him for 20 days News Israel now holding 13 Palestinian journalists Reporters Without Borders is relieved by today’s announcement that Munir Abu Rizq, the Gaza bureau chief of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, a daily that supports the Palestinian Authority, has been freed. He was arrested on 15 January by members of the Executive Force, the armed wing of Hamas. His release comes just days after that of Omar Al-Ghul, one of the newspaper’s columnists, who was arrested in Gaza in December.“We hope these encouraging gestures by Hamas mark the end of the Islamist party’s hounding of journalists suspected of supporting Fatah, President Mahmoud Abbas’s party,” Reporters Without Borders said.————————————————————1.02.2008Newspaper columnist freed after being held by Hamas for 49 daysReporters Without Borders welcomes the release today of Omar Al-Ghul, a columnist with the pro-Fatah newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, who had been held by the Islamist party Hamas for 49 days. Another of the newspaper’s journalists, Gaza bureau chief Munir Abu Rizq, is still being held by Hamas.“The situation of press freedom in the Gaza Strip has become one of the worst in the region,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We appeal to Hamas’ leaders to put an end to their harassment of journalists who support the Palestinian Authority. Ghul’s release is good news even if it comes after more than two months in captivity. We hope Rizq will now benefit from another Hamas goodwill gesture.”Ghul, 52, was released from Gaza’s Saraya prison. As well as a columnist, he is also an adviser to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He was arrested at his home on 14 December by members of the Executive Force, Hamas’ armed wing.“I am happy to be free,” he told Reporters Without Borders. “Freedom is wonderful thing, especially after 50 days of unwarranted detention.”Rizq was arrested on 15 January in Gaza. May 16, 2021 Find out more
Financial meltdown or not, it seems UK consumers are frequently tempted by a Danish pastry or pain au chocolat to accompany their breakfast, mid-morning, or afternoon hot drink. Ian Toal, managing director of Delice de France UK and Ireland says the firm has experienced strong demand for its more traditional sweet pastries, such as its Danish pastry selection, over the past 12 months. “Despite the recession and tougher market conditions, the demand for sweet pastry products has remained strong. In fact, it would be fair to say that bake-off sweet pastries have proven to be one of the most resilient categories during the period as consumers choose sweet treats as a relatively inexpensive way to indulge and have a personal treat.”Commenting on the latest trends in this category, Bakehouse marketing director Kate Raison says its retail customers are interested in new variations on popular themes or product types, in order to keep their bakery offering fresh and consumers interested in trying new options. “While NPD, where traditional ranges are given an innovative twist, is important, indulgence with flaky pastry, chocolate, authentic flavours and fruit fillings is still key,” she explains.”Retail sales patterns show growth in sales of doughnuts and, notably, Danish pastries. Although the traditional favourites maple & pecan plait, vanilla crème crown and the cinnamon swirl make up over 77% of the Danish market, there have been recent fresh developments in Danish, such as fruit fillings and new shapes, which are helping to grow the sector.” Responding to the trend, Bakehouse has launched an Apricot & Almond Scroll, made with Schulstad Royal Danish pastry, topped with almond remonce [made from creamed butter and sugar], and featuring a real apricot filling.Country Choice has also tapped into this development with the launch of some new lines, designed to continue the growth of the long-established Danish and Continental pastries market. A Lemon & Blueberry Crown, Raspberry Croissant, and Apricot Croissant, have joined its portfolio. Other launches include Delifrance UK’s Vanilla Plait and Danish-style vanilla custard, which commercial director Alan Moutter says have been launched in response to potential growth opportunities in the breakfast market an area he says has been becoming a more ’premium’ occasion.Vandemoortele says the bake-off sweet pastries category has been showing good overall growth within in-store bakeries. “In-store bakery Danish sales equate to £34m annually, with puff pastry products, comprising turnovers, Eccles and fruit puffs worth in the region of £13m a year,” says marketing manager Chelsea Pogson. “The latest data from Kantar Worldpanel has shown Danish sales have increased by 4% in value for the 12 weeks ended 31 October 2010 versus the previous 12 weeks; this is also up on the comparable 12 weeks last year.”Pogson says puff pastry fruit turnovers have also continued to grow, up 2% over the last 12 weeks. As sweet pastries are suitable for a number of different eating occasions breakfast, afternoon treat or dessert she adds it’s important for in-store bakeries to make sure they are available to consumers throughout the day. In terms of festive products, the firm says it is seeing twists on traditional mince pies, made with puff pastry, with visual changes such as lattice tops and mini options, and recipe changes, such as the addition of butter to the recipe, which it says should help drive sales of ISB mince pies by attracting new shoppers.The Viennoiserie market is also expanding, says Bakehouse’s Raison, currently making up around 10% of the in-store bakery snacking market. “Consumers still view these products as ’breakfast treats’ and the whole Viennoiserie category is seeing great growth at 5.7% (data: Nielsen Scantrak 52 weeks to 2/10/10),” she says. “Pain au chocolat is proving the product ’hero’, with a 13.5% growth, due to increased distribution, gaining broader universal appeal in the UK market.”Some pastries, it seems, just never go out of fashion.
“There will always be players who want to play more in football, but if a team is to be successful then players have to be available at different times.“I feel in this group we don’t have one bad apple.”Solskjaer enjoyed a dream return to the club he graced as a player when United reeled off a long unbeaten run and knocked Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League in 2019.But Solskjaer said he learned more about who he could trust and count on when United stuttered badly at the end of his first season.“When you win, everything is easy. It’s when you hit difficult times that you can see who you want and who has the right mentality,” he said.“We didn’t see that until after Paris, when we went into a bad run.“That’s when I saw who I could build a long-term, successful squad around. You need some egos in football, but it has to be team first.” Share on: WhatsApp Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won’t accept personal agendas London, United Kingdom | AFP | Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his players that “personal agendas” will not be tolerated as he seeks a change of culture at Old Trafford.Solskjaer has overseen a huge turnover in his squad since taking charge in 2018.Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were high-profile departures to Inter Milan, while Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, Antonio Valencia, Ander Herrera, Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo also left in a mix of permanent and loan deals during that period.Solskjaer is much happier with the current makeup of his squad having recruited a number of young talents in Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Bruno Fernandes.But the Norwegian said he would have no qualms about getting rid of another negative influence, even if it meant unbalancing his squad.“Personality is so important. We’re a team in a team environment,” Solskjaer said in an interview with fanzine United We Stand.“You want players to have a bit of ego and edge but they have to be able to adapt. The players started with negative thinking, whereas now it’s positive thinking.“There were other things I didn’t like last year, some personal agendas which couldn’t be sorted out until the summer.
In 66 regular season games with Creston and the Storm, the Edmonton native scored 17 goals while adding 31 assists for 48 points.“The big move (in the deal) was Max (Daerendinger),” Dooley said of the smooth skating 6’2”, 185-pound defenceman from Vancouver who registered 17 points in 37 games with the Leafs.“We’ve had all kinds of offers for Daerendinger in the last few months and we had no interest in moving him what so ever.” “However, Max has received huge Jr.A attention . . . even offers of roster spots,” Dooley added.“We felt that we would not see Max back and were willing to take the chance and get Austin Steger.”Anselmo came to Nelson after playing one BC Hockey League game with Trail Smoke Eaters.The 5’10” 170-pound Anselmo had 18 points for Nelson before being shipped to Surrey Eagles of the BCHL in January.Dooley felt the chance of Anselmo returning to Junior B was slim so sending his rights to the Storm was the easy part of the deal.Nelson started making changes to the roster that bowed out of the KIJHL playoffs in straight games to Beaver Valley Nitehawks earlier this month by sending center Austin Lindsay and cash to Ridge Meadows Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League for two players — forward Dale Howell and netminder Jason Sandhu.Management then acquired Nelson Minor Hockey power forward Sawyer Hunt from the Kimberley Dynamiters for forward Nick Ketola and future considerations.Nelson, struggling to finish fourth in the Murdoch Division before being ousted from post season, opens the KIJHL season with main camp August 12-15 at the NDCC Arena. The Nelson Leafs continue to tinker with the roster during the offseason as the club builds for the 2016-17 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League campaign.The franchise completed its third deal during the month of June, landing 20-year-old defenceman Austin Steger from the Campbell River Storm.Sent to the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League squad in exchange for Steger was defenceman Max Daerendinger and the rights to defenceman Austin Anselmo.“Austin is very offensive and puts up huge points for a D-man,” Leafs Sean Dooley said when asked about the 5’9”, 185-pound Steger.“We wanted to bring in that veteran presence through a 20-year-old on our back end and we very excited about acquiring him.”Steger should be no stranger to Leaf fans, having toiled for the past two seasons with Creston Valley Thunder Cats before being moved mid season to Campbell River.
PETER MILLER, SOLID WAGER AND ST. JOE BAY (DEAD HEAT), WINNER: “This is unbelievable. Both horses ran super. Both riders rode super. I couldn’t call it and obviously the Stewards couldn’t either, so I’m just elated for everyone involved.“Watching it live I thought the two won, then when I watched the replay I thought the three won and when they put up the “DH” I didn’t know what to do!” JOCKEY QUOTES NOTES: The winning owners of Solid Wager are Gary Barber, Cecil Barber and Stanford Stable. The winning owners of St. Joe Bay are David Bernsen and Altamira Racing Stable. -30- VICTOR ESPINOZA, SOLID WAGER, WINNER (DEAD HEAT): “The way the track is, and the weather…I thought ‘ok I’ll get all dirty and it could be an experience’ but it’s my last race of the year so I’ll just go for it.“He’s such a cool horse. He likes to just take his time and he tries as hard as he can down the stretch. I was only watching Kent on St. Joe Bay and no one else. His was the only horse I was concerned about getting by down the lane because everyone else looked like they were struggling.“Sure enough, it was just between the two of us at the wire. It was awesome. When I crossed the wire I couldn’t tell but I was in front of him just a jump after. Kent thought he won right away but I said ‘Hey. Don’t be so sure.’ It’s not often this happens and to do it in a graded stakes for the same trainer?!” KENT DESORMEAUX, ST. JOE BAY, WINNER (DEAD HEAT): “This is incredible for Pete. Dead Heats are not abnormal, but what is totally unique is being in a dead heat for the same trainer. I’ve ridden 40,000 horses, and that’s only happened to me one other time. It was for Richard Mandella, maybe in 1992, in the Beverly at Hollywood Park.“There were no losers. We had two horses on the same team in the race, and we tied.“I had a rough trip. He leaves the gate like a Quarter Horse, and he jumped over every hoof print and all the tractor marks. I really sat down on him leaving the chute and coming on to the main track. He pitched himself well in front, and threw on the brakes. I know for certain that the other horse was lucky to tie, but it’s a good year for Pete, and sometimes things are just out of your hands.” TRAINER QUOTES
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 29, 2017)–Favored Stormy Liberal broke sharply and dictated term throughout to score a 1 ½ length win in Sunday’s $75,000 Clockers’ Corner Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Norberto Arroyo, Jr. and trained by Peter Miller, the 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding got 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:11.91.With Stormy Liberal breaking from post position eight, he put immediate pressure on Forever Juanito, who broke from post six and was ridden by Agapito Delgadillo. The pair raced as a team to the dirt crossing at the top of the stretch, where the winner opened up and was never challenged thereafter.Off at 2-1 in a field of 10 older horses, Stormy Liberal paid $6.00, $3.80 and $3.20.“The difference today was that we were outside and it was an easier race,” said Arroyo. “I was just along for the ride today, he just took me.”Owned by Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch, Stormy Liberal provided the owner and trainer with a double on the afternoon. Second in the Grade III San Simeon Stakes down the hill on Dec. 26, Stormy Liberal registered his fourth win from nine tries over the course and he’s now 17-4-6-1 overall. With the winner’s share of $47,700, Stormy Liberal now has earnings of $247,570.“I train for a great group of guys and I’m really happy for my horse,” said Miller, who claimed the winner three starts back for $40,000 on Oct. 16. “We’ve had a big weekend and we’re working hard…I think 6 ½ down the hill hits him right between the eyes. He loves it. He’s just a really honest, nice horse.”Though no threat to the winner late, Forever Juanito held second by 1 ½ lengths over Blameitonthelaw. Off at 19-1, Forever Juanito paid $17.00 and $9.20.Ridden by Luis Contreras, Blameitonthelaw was off at 12-1 and paid $6.60 to show.Fractions on the race were 22.39, 44.15 and 1:05.91.Live racing resumes at Santa Anita on Thursday with first post time at 1 p.m.
Phil Lutzenkirchen FieldPhilip Lutzenkirchen, a former All-SEC tight end at Auburn, passed away last June in a single car crash near La Grange, Georgia. This summer, Lutzenkirchen’s high school, Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia, will unveil a new turf field installed in his honor. Thursday, the school board in Cobb County approved a $332,421.68 project (fully funded by the Lutzie 43 Foundation) to have the field completed by the end of July. Here’s more, via AL.com:Frank Filmann Stadium plays host to Lassiter High’s football games. The new field will be named “Lutzie 43 Field.” Lutzenkirchen’s family memorialized Philip inside the high school stadium three days following his shocking death in a single-vehicle accident outside La Grange, Georgia on June 29, 2014.The Lutzie 43 Foundation celebrated the decision by tweeting the news to its followers.#LutzieField is coming this fall! The @CobbSchools board passed it 7-0! pic.twitter.com/WKXWvJQT7Y— Lutzie 43 Foundation (@lutzie43) June 25, 2015[AL.com]
In a recent interview with JIS News, the Minister also pointed to the $1.9-billion investment to build the JCF Mobile West facility in St. James, citing it as evidence of “this Government’s commitment to investing in our security”. Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says the rehabilitation of more than 70 police stations islandwide is part of a bigger plan to significantly improve the working conditions of members of the security forces. “The Ministry of National Security will follow up our policy support with significant investment in police infrastructure in the West,” the Minister said. Story Highlights Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says the rehabilitation of more than 70 police stations islandwide is part of a bigger plan to significantly improve the working conditions of members of the security forces.In a recent interview with JIS News, the Minister also pointed to the $1.9-billion investment to build the JCF Mobile West facility in St. James, citing it as evidence of “this Government’s commitment to investing in our security”.“The Ministry of National Security will follow up our policy support with significant investment in police infrastructure in the West,” the Minister said.“The JCF Mobile West facility will provide the region with increased security presence. With the agility of the force improved, social development initiatives like Goals for Peace, will have the peaceful climate needed to effect change in our communities,” he added.Dr. Chang said that in the wake of the State of Public Emergency, the continued execution of targeted social-intervention programmes in St. James remains a top priority.“We must recall that the State of Public Emergency is part of a larger operational strategy to Clear, Hold and Build. The Build aspect is what the Goals for Peace Initiative represents,” the Minister explained.“When a certain level of control has been established, then second-tier strategies such as roadwork, community development projects, and social-intervention initiatives have the capacity to build and grow,” he noted.The Ministry of National Security/Citizen Security and Justice Programme, in partnership with other key social intervention agencies in St. James, has been implementing the Goals for Peace programme in the parish, which has engaged approximately 1,160 unattached and at-risk male youth from 15 communities, to date.“In the case of Goals for Peace, the programme aims to use the unifying agency of sports to bridge the gap between young men and positive attitudes and behaviour,” Dr. Chang said.“The rationale behind this approach is the creation of an environment that promotes bonds and friendships, which will, in turn, starve the hostile environments that encourage division, strife and violent disputes. It is harder to be violent to someone you laughed and played with,” the Minister argued.Dr. Chang said that when social and economic conditions change, it encourages the people within these spaces to change too.“A peaceful Jamaica is our aim, and it’s a reality that I believe is achievable in our lifetime. It is easier to talk through disputes when young people learn these skills on the field or on the sidelines of a friendly game, rather than in courtrooms, police stations or detention centres,” the Minister said.
REGINA – The Saskatchewan government has given Husky Energy the OK to restart a pipeline after a major oil spill along the North Saskatchewan River that fouled the water source for three cities.The government said in an email to media on Thursday that testing, inspection and evaluation of the repairs to the line have been done.In July 2016, the pipeline leaked 225,000 litres of heavy oil mixed with diluent onto a riverbank near Maidstone, Sask. About 40 per cent of the spill reached the river.The oil plume flowed hundreds of kilometres downstream and forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intakes for almost two months.Husky’s own investigation determined that the pipeline buckled because of ground movement. The company has said it accepts full responsibility and is using what it learned to improve operations.The government email said measures have been taken to reduce the risk of a future failure at the same spot. They include thicker pipe on the sloped portion of the pipeline.Other steps include adding meters to monitor the rate of ground movement, state-of-the art fibre optics to track pipeline strain and slope movement.Husky will also have to submit weekly data from gauges measuring strain on the pipeline and submit an engineering assessment every 12 months of where the pipeline crosses the river.Part of the concern in the Husky spill was over how it was reported.The government was first told by a member of the public who spotted oil on the river. Government investigators later determined that the leak began July 20, the day before the spill was discovered. They found that the pipeline’s alarms were warning of potential problems and continued until the line was shut down for scheduled maintenance at 7:15 a.m. on July 21.Husky Energy has said pipeline monitoring indicated pressure anomalies at 8 p.m. on July 20 and the company started a shutdown at 6 a.m.Saskatchewan’s Justice Ministry is still reviewing Husky’s response to alarms before the spill to decide whether charges should be laid.Husky could face fines of up to $1 million a day under the Environmental Protection Act and $50,000 a day under the Pipelines Act in Saskatchewan. There could also be federal charges under the Fisheries Act.
TORONTO – While stabilizing oil prices helped Canadian equities break out of their doldrums in the second half of 2017, investors expecting the Toronto Stock Exchange to catch up with its outperforming global peers in the new year should instead anticipate more modest returns with the add-on of greater market volatility.“Despite being flat in the early part of the year and then posting some gains here in the back half of the year, the swings in equity prices on the S&P/TSX composite index have been incredibly small by historical standards,” said Craig Fehr, a Canadian markets strategist with Edward Jones. “And so I think the first thing we can expect from the TSX is much bigger swings in prices, much more volatility on a daily and weekly basis.”“All that said, I think there’s still more gas left in the tank for this bull market,” he added, referencing the eight-plus years of global gains since the dark days of 2009 in the wake of the last recession. “I think we can see positive returns again in 2018. I would expect them to be relatively muted so … Canadian equities, domestic equities, still underperform international markets.”After hitting a record high of 15,922.67 on Feb. 21, the TSX steadily declined to a low of 14,951.88 by Aug. 21, down 2.2 per cent on the year at the time. A resurgence in oil — which saw crude prices rally from a 2017 low of US$42.53 per barrel on June 21 to a barrier-breaking high of US$60.42 on the final trading day of the year — sparked a surge in energy shares that saw the TSX complete its first of many record closes in the latter half of 2017. By Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, the TSX closed at consecutive record highs of 16,203.13 and 16,221.95, respectively. It finished 2017 at 16,209.13, ahead 921.54 points or about six per cent on the year.By comparison, Wall Street’s S&P 500 index — the American equivalent to the TSX — gained 434.78 points or about 19 per cent in 2017. The Dow Jones industrial average added 4,956.62 points or about 25 per cent, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 1,520.27 points or about 28 per cent.One the most dominant themes in equity markets in 2017 was the trend toward stability from cyclicality in an otherwise uncertain political and geopolitical backdrop, said Candice Bangsund, vice president and portfolio manager at Fiera Capital. This saw the more defensive U.S. equity markets, which are heavily weighted towards technological growth, thrive last year. Meanwhile, the cyclically-based Canadian equity markets made up primarily of financial, energy and materials sectors were largely underappreciated.While oil is a key influence on the commodity-heavy TSX, economist Todd Mattina of Mackenzie Investments said he expects it to remain range-bound around its current level of US$50 to US$60 a barrel going into the new year — a level that will not really help the index in a meaningful way.“The TSX has benefited in recent months because of the strong rally in oil prices. But there’s a number of uncertainties going into 2018 that also cloud the outlook,” he said. “One of them is how much further can oil prices rally? … To the extent that higher oil prices since September have supported gains in the TSX, a risk factor in 2018 is that oil prices could run into resistance if U.S. shale producers increase production at today’s higher price levels.”Still, oil only touches upon one of several possible risks for the TSX in 2018, Mattina added. “The oil price outlook is not the driver of our bearish view of Canadian stocks. We are underweight the Canadian stock market because valuations are not highly attractive relative to other major stock markets and our indicators of investor sentiment look bearish.”He said that in addition to the policy uncertainty around ongoing NAFTA renegotiations, another factor weighing on the TSX is the perennial concern about very high levels of Canadian household debt and how that will affect consumer spending in the forthcoming years. Statistics Canada reported in December that household credit market debt as a proportion of household disposable income increased to 171.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2017, up from 170.1 per cent in the second quarter. That means there was $1.71 in credit market debt, which includes consumer credit and mortgage and non-mortgage loans, for every dollar of household disposable income.While consumers were the dominant engine behind growth last year amid solid employment gains, Bangsund said she expects trade and business development to take the baton in 2018 as earlier fears of a U.S. and global economic slowdown have proven unfounded in 2017. That could see the cyclical segments of the market that favour Canadian equities regain leadership performance.“The TSX will be the main beneficiary if that scenario of stronger growth and rising commodity prices does continue into 2018 due to that cyclicality of the Canadian stock market,” she said.A 2018 global market outlook report by Russell Investments Canada Ltd. also supports higher Canadian equity prices due to late-cycle tailwinds while still cautioning that it also expects volatility to be higher over 2018 versus 2017 as markets start to consider the timing of the next recession. Given this uncertainty around the domestic equities, the Russell report concluded it’s “modestly positive on Canadian equities with a price target of 16,900 for year-end 2018 for the S&P/TSX composite index.”Should Canadian equity returns in 2018 mirror those of the prior 12 months, Fehr said investors should keep in mind that while that doesn’t stack up well against the juggernaut momentum seen in other global markets, they are still relatively healthy gains.“For the Canadian market by historical standards it’s certainly solid,” he said. “It’s underperformance but it’s positive performance, so it’s not terrible.”Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.
New Delhi: Bajaj Auto and Austria’s Pierer Industrie AG have started discussions to assess the possibility of transferring Bajaj’s 48 per cent stake in KTM AG to KTM Industries AG, with the Pierer-Group continuing to retain the controlling majority over KTM Industries AG. “Pierer Industrie AG and Bajaj will now evaluate the proposals in detail. The transaction decision is targeted to be made in the second quarter of 2019,” Bajaj Auto said in a regulatory filing Thursday. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal At present, Pierer Industrie AG holds approximately 62 per cent of the shares of KTM Industries AG. The listed company KTM Industries AG holds approximately 51.7 per cent of the shares of KTM AG. “If Pierer Industrie AG and Bajaj decide to execute the transaction, KTM Industries AG will examine the legal and economic requirements and conditions of a capital increase by contribution in kind from the existing authorised capital of the company. The authorised capital enables a capital increase of up to 50 per cent of the existing share capital,” the filing added. Bajaj Auto said if the transaction is executed, KTM Industries AG’s stake in KTM AG would increase from current 51.7 per cent to approximately 99.7 per cent.
Islamabad: Pakistan’s senior Muslim clerics and representatives from different religions have condemned forceful conversions, saying Islam doesn’t allow such acts and Muslims must provide better environment to minorities in their areas, according to a media report. The remarks made during a joint meeting of the Mutahida Ulema Board (Punjab) and Pakistan Ulema Council on Sunday came amid the nationwide outrage over the alleged forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh province. “Islam doesn’t allow forceful conversion of non-Muslims,” the religious leaders said. They agreed that the issue of alleged forced conversion and marriages of two teenage Hindu girls in Sindh province and other subsequent matters should be settled in accordance with the law and justice, the News reported. The meeting – presided over by Chairman Mutahida Ulema Board and Pakistan Ulema Council Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi – underlined that Islam is a religion of peace, harmony, stability and its teachings have categorically defined rights for non-Muslims residing in Muslim countries. The senior religious leaders also condemned terror activities being carried out on account of Islamphobia and demanded constitution of a judicial commission to probe the killing of Bahawalpur professor to avert such extremist incidents in future, the paper said. A third-year student at Bahawalpur’s Government Sadiq Egerton College last month allegedly stabbed a professor to death over what he vaguely described as the academic’s “anti-Islam” remarks.
Chennai: It will be a battle of leadership styles of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin when Chennai Super Kings clash with Kings XI Punjab an IPL match here on Saturday. Dhoni’s ability to stay calm and keep his cool even in the trickiest of situations versus Ashwin’s aggressive approach and out-of-the-box decisions would certainly make for an interesting contest. The two teams have three wins each and both will try to outdo each other to take the upper hand. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhDefending champions CSK suffered their first defeat at the hands of Mumbai Indians in their last match after three straight wins, and they would hoping to get back to winning ways as they return to their ‘den’. The two previous matches at MA Chidambaram Stadium have produced contrasting performances. While Royal Challengers Bangalore were shot out for 70, Rajasthan Royals made CSK sweat before going down by eight runs on a better surface for the batters. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterThe spin-heavy CSK will now be up against KXIP, which also have quality spinners in their line-up with Ashwin himself at the forefront apart from Mujeeb Ur Rahman, leggie M Ashwin and mystery bowler C V Varun. The home team’s bowlers will be wary of Chris Gayle’s power-hitting provided he plays after missing the game against Delhi Capitals on April 1. With Gayle sitting out in their last match, KXIP showed it is not about the hard-hitting West Indian alone as KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal put their hands up. And Punjab would hope that they continue to shine. CSK has relied on team effort to win their matches as different players have delivered the goods in the IPL so far. The only worry would be the form of opener Ambati Rayudu, who has struggled to get going after last year’s success, perhaps creating a chance for Murali Vijay at the top. There is uncertainty over the availability of star all-rounder Dwayne Bravo for tomorrow’s game after he suffered a hamstring injury against Mumbai. His absence could open up a spot for the New Zealand pacer Scott Kuggeleijn. Dhoni will expect his bowlers to step up after the Mumbai batsmen went on the rampage during Wednesday’s match. In fact, CSK may opt for an extra spinner in place of either Mohit Sharma or Shardul Thakur. KXIP skipper Ashwin, who was part of CSK before the franchise let him go, would be looking to put his best foot forward against his former team.
Midwest region East region South region Top seed outlook: According to the FiveThirtyEight model, top seed Duke has the best chance of advancing to the Final Four in the entire field (53 percent probability) as well as the best odds of winning the national title (19 percent).The Blue Devils are led by four soon-to-be first-round draft picks, including Zion Williamson, one of the greatest talents in recent memory. Duke is a walking highlight reel on the offensive end and far stingier on defense than many may realize. This is among Mike Krzyzewski’s most-balanced teams and projects to be his first since 2010 to rank inside the top six in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offense and defense metrics. That team won the national title.1 Granted, they won the title again in 2015 with a team that fell below that benchmark on defense.What this team lacks, however, is touch along the perimeter. Duke shoots a ghastly 30.2 percent from beyond the arc, the worst mark among tournament-qualifying teams. In an offensive era increasingly dominated by space and perimeter scoring, the Blue Devils could buck the trend punishing the rim.On the other side of the region is the winner of the Big Ten conference tournament, Michigan State. As their reward, the No. 2 Spartans have the honor of a potential matchup against the top overall seed in the Elite Eight. Head coach Tom Izzo was none too pleased. The Spartans have been pummeled by injuries but remain one of the most balanced teams in the country, ranking inside the top eight in Pomeroy’s adjusted offense and defense metrics.Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 4 Virginia Tech. Led by the star pairing of Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the Hokies are a balanced squad that ranks among Pomeroy’s Top 25 teams on both offense and defense. Although they’ve lost eight times, only two of those were by double-digits. Virginia Tech also has a not-altogether-unfriendly draw, with extremely winnable opening games against Saint Louis (87 percent) and the Mississippi State-Liberty winner (63 percent) before most likely running into Duke’s juggernaut. We give the Hokies a respectable 25 percent chance against the Blue Devils — and a 54 percent chance against whoever emerges from the bottom of the region if they do manage to knock off Duke.Don’t bet on: No. 3 LSU. With coach Will Wade embroiled in a pay-for-play scandal and his team probably overvalued as a 3-seed, the Bayou Bengals could be ripe for an upset in this tournament. They ranked only 18th in Pomeroy’s ratings — roughly the quality of a No. 5 seed — thanks in large part to a defense that didn’t even crack the nation’s top 60 in adjusted efficiency. (This showed up in the 51 second-half points they allowed to Florida while losing their first game of the SEC tournament.) Their NCAA path isn’t very easy, either: Yale is no pushover as a No. 14 seed, nor is potential second-round opponent Maryland, and we give the Tigers a mere 26 percent chance of beating Michigan State if the teams meet in the Sweet Sixteen. This is easily the lowest-rated top-three seed in the field.Cinderella watch: No. 11 Belmont. The East is top-heavy, with Duke and Michigan State soaking up most of the Final Four odds. But the Bruins are an intriguing lower-seeded team because of an impressive offense led by do-everything swingman Dylan Windler. According to Pomeroy, Belmont ranks 20th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (and second nationally in raw points per game behind Gonzaga), while Windler was one of only three players nationally to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Although the Bruins do have to win a play-in game against Temple just to make the field of 64 — we give them a 59 percent chance — they would have a very competitive 39 percent probability of upsetting Maryland in the first round and an even better chance against the LSU/Yale winner.Player to watch: Cassius Winston, Michigan StateThree years ago, zzo said he thought his 6-foot-1 freshman could be Michigan State’s best passer since Magic Johnson. The Spartans’ do-everything point guard — one of the best facilitators in the country — is validating his coach’s comment. Only Murray State’s Ja Morant, a surefire lottery pick in this year’s draft, has a higher assist rate than Winston (46.0 percent). And behind Winston, the Spartans assist on the highest rate of field goals in the country.The junior also happens to be Izzo’s leading scorer and one of the country’s top perimeter threats, shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc. As injuries have relentlessly sapped the Spartans of their on-court production, Winston has elevated his game to compensate. As he put it to The Athletic, “I have to do a lot for my team to win.”Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Central Florida over No. 8 VCU (47 percent); No. 11 Belmont* over No. 6 Maryland (39 percent); No. 10 Minnesota over No. 7 Louisville (34 percent)(* Must win play-in game first.) Top seed outlook: Can No. 1 Virginia exorcise last year’s demons now that the team is at full strength? Our model thinks so. The Cavaliers have a 49 percent probability of cracking the Final Four and a 31 percent probability of reaching what would be the program’s first national title game.With De’Andre Hunter, who wasn’t on the court last year during UVA’s historic loss to No. 16 Maryland Baltimore County, the Cavaliers have been dominant on both ends — the only team ranking in the top five in Pomeroy’s adjusted offense and defense metrics. Once again, Tony Bennett’s pack line defense is suffocating most every offensive opportunity and successfully turning games into rock fights. But this year’s team is even better on the offensive end and should breeze into the Elite Eight, where it could meet Tennessee. Thanks to Grant Williams and the wonderfully named Admiral Schofield, the No. 2 Volunteers are playing their best basketball in program history. We give them a 22 percent probability of reaching the Final Four.Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 6 Villanova. Is it “sneaky” to pick the team that’s won two of the past three national titles? Maybe not. But this hasn’t been the same team that coach Jay Wright guided to those championships. After losing a ton of its best players from last year’s title-winning team, the Wildcats had an up-and-down year and lost five of their final eight regular-season Big East games. But they also got hot over the past week, capping off a season in which they still won the Big East regular-season and conference-tournament titles — and still had one of the 20 best offenses in the country according to KenPom (powered by an absurd number of 3-pointers). Our power ratings think they’re the fourth-best team in the South despite being the No. 6 seed, and they have a 5 percent chance of making it back to the Final Four for a third time in four seasons.Don’t bet on: No. 4 Kansas State. Coach Bruce Weber’s Wildcats nearly made the Final Four last season, but they might find it tougher this time around. K-State has an elite defense (it ranks fourth in the country according to Pomeroy’s ratings), but its offense is prone to struggles — and could be down its second-leading scorer, forward Dean Wade, who missed the team’s Big 12 tournament loss to Iowa State with a foot injury. A brutal draw that gives the Wildcats tough No. 13 seed UC Irvine in the first round, then places them opposite the Wisconsin-Oregon winner in Round 2, could limit their potential to advance deep into a second consecutive tournament.Cinderella watch: No. 12 Oregon. According to our model, the Ducks have the best Sweet 16 odds (24 percent) of any double-digit seed in the tournament, more than twice that of any other candidate. Oregon struggled to string together wins for most of the regular season, and its chances seemed sunk after 7-foot-2 phenom Bol Bol was lost for the season with a foot injury in January. But the Ducks have rallied to win eight straight games heading into the tournament, including a convincing victory in Saturday’s Pac-12 championship. Oregon fits a similar mold as K-State — great defense with a suspect offense — but that’s telling, given that the Ducks are a 12-seed and the Wildcats are a No. 4. If they meet in the Round of 32, we give Oregon a 47 percent chance at the upset.Player to watch: Grant Williams, TennesseeThe junior has come a long way from being “just a fat boy with some skill.” Williams, the de facto leader of Rick Barnes’s Volunteers, has bullied the SEC over the past two seasons, collecting two consecutive conference player of the year honors.The Vols might just feature the best offense of Barnes’s coaching career — and we’re talking about a guy who coached Kevin Durant! Much of that offensive potency can be traced to Williams, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, who ranks in the 97th percentile in scoring efficiency, according to data courtesy of Synergy Sports.Williams possesses an old-man game you might find at a local YMCA, a back-to-the-basket, footwork-proficient offensive assault that manifests primarily in post-ups, where he ranks in the 98th percentile in scoring efficiency and shoots an adjusted field-goal percentage of 56.1. He can get the Volunteers buckets in the waning moments of games, too, as he ranks in the 96th percentile in isolation scoring efficiency.Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Oklahoma over No. 8 Ole Miss (53 percent); No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Wisconsin (45 percent); No. 10 Iowa over No. 7 Cincinnati (34 percent) Top seed outlook: On paper, the Midwest seems to be the most open of the four regions, but we still give No. 1 North Carolina the best odds, with a 35 percent probability of reaching the Final Four and an 18 percent probability of appearing in the national championship game. Those odds are at least 8 percentage points lower than any other No. 1 team in the field, though, and for good reason: North Carolina’s offense depends on turning every play into a fast break. The Tar Heels struggle to get to the free-throw line and give up a ton of shots along the perimeter, which, in a slowed-down, half-court matchup, could be quite problematic.After getting waxed by Duke to open the season, No. 2 Kentucky has caught fire in recent weeks while finding balance on both ends of the floor and mostly abstaining from the 3-point line. No. 3 Houston, meanwhile, is in the midst of its best season since Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon were revolutionizing college basketball, and they boast a defense that ranks among the very best along and inside the perimeter.Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 5 Auburn. When the Tigers steamrolled Tennessee 84-64 in Sunday’s SEC title game, it likely got the attention of a lot of bracket-pickers. That wasn’t a one-off — Auburn also beat Tennessee eight days earlier, part of a string of eight straight wins for the Tigers, and 10 in their last 11 games. With an explosive offense (No. 8 in KenPom efficiency) that got more of its points from downtown than any other team in the NCAA field, Auburn can heat up in a hurry. We give the Tigers nearly a coin-flip’s odds of making the Sweet 16 — and a very solid 37 percent chance of beating top-seeded North Carolina if the Tar Heels are waiting for Auburn there. The only kryptonite might be a hypothetical regional-final matchup with No. 2 seed Kentucky, which beat the Tigers by 27 in late February to sweep their season series.Don’t bet on: No. 4 Kansas. The Jayhawks went into the season ranked No. 1 in the AP’s preseason poll, and they appeared to validate the choice by starting the season 10-0. But a 15-9 record (and some key injuries) since then have cast doubt on Kansas’s NCAA Tournament potential. This is a well-balanced team, but to say it doesn’t shoot well from the outside is an understatement — see KU’s 3-for-18 performance from deep in Saturday’s Big 12 ouster against Iowa State. Add an unfavorable draw that puts them on a potential second-round collision course with Auburn (see above), and we give the Jayhawks only an 8 percent chance of making out of the Midwest with their championship hopes intact.Cinderella watch: No. 11 Ohio State. If a Big Ten team that has made 11 Final Fours can be a Cinderella, then you’re looking at it in these Buckeyes. (Hey, the committee’s increasing tendency to seed underwhelming power-conference schools this way really messes with the definition.) OSU went only 18-13 during the regular season, was defeated in its second Big Ten tournament game and has almost twice as many losses as wins since New Year’s. So why are the Buckeyes a potential Cinderella? Despite the seed, this is still a dangerous team, one that ranks 27th in Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive ratings and has star forward Kaleb Wesson back from suspension. So maybe they’ll give Big 12 champ Iowa State trouble. But mainly this tells you something about the other potential Cinderellas in this region: Seton Hall got a very tough first-round matchup with underseeded Wofford; none of the other low seeds here are world-beaters. That leaves the Buckeyes, a team that did all it could to play its way out of the tournament, but has some upset potential regardless.Player to watch: Cameron Johnson, UNCOn a team that doesn’t hoist a ton of shots from the perimeter, Johnson is as lethal as they come. Following an injury-riddled campaign in which he barely made more than one-third of his looks from beyond the arc, the grad student is canning 46.5 percent of his attempts, which ranks inside the top 25 nationally.Johnson has thrived in North Carolina’s every-possession-is-a-transition-opportunity scheme this season. He’s blossomed into one of the best scorers in the ACC, ranking between the 85th and 100th percentiles in scoring efficiency in transition, off screens and on spot-ups.Johnson has elevated his game in conference play, boasting the ACC’s top offensive rating (132.5) and true shooting percentage (64.6). Suddenly, a player who wasn’t seen as a guaranteed professional now projects to be a second-round pick.Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Washington over No. 8 Utah State (49 percent); No. 10 Seton Hall over No. 7 Wofford (37 percent); No. 11 Ohio State over No. 6 Iowa State (33 percent)Check out our latest March Madness predictions.CORRECTION (March 18, 2019, 3:10 p.m.): A previous version of this story misstated the number of Sweet 16s made by Villanova in recent seasons. Although the Wildcats have reached the NCAA Tournament’s “third round” in four of their past five seasons, that round was the Round of 32 until 2016 because of NCAA naming conventions. The NCAA Tournament is finally here! Will we see another No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed? Will Gonzaga finally win its first national championship? Will Zion Williamson’s shoe explode again? We can’t tell you exactly what will happen over the next three weeks, but we can help steer you in the right direction when picking your bracket using our March Madness prediction model. You can read about how the system works here, and read on to learn what the model has to say about the top seeds’ fates, dark horses and Cinderellas to watch, and favorites to avoid. Let the madness begin… West region From ABC News: Top seed outlook: Gonzaga is the best team in the West by a considerable margin, but the Zags, despite reaching the final two years ago, haven’t always performed well under the bright lights of the tournament. Still, Gonzaga has a 70 percent probability of reaching the Elite Eight, according to our model, and the third-best odds of any team to reach the national championship game (26 percent).Should Gonzaga face Syracuse in the second round, the zone defense of the Orange could give the Bulldogs trouble. This is the best offense Mark Few has had in Spokane, but it may be tested by any of the terrific defenses in the West: Four of the top 15 can be found in this region, including the top two in Texas Tech and Michigan.Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 4 Florida State. A fixture in the KenPom Top 20 for most of the season, the Seminoles are hoping to build on last season’s tournament run, which saw them come within a 4-point margin of making the Final Four. FSU has a dominant defense (No. 9 in Pomeroy’s ratings) and a balanced roster that saw four players accumulate at least 2.5 win shares. This draw isn’t terrible, either: Vermont isn’t especially difficult as a first-round foe, and Marquette is very beatable (more on that below). No. 1 seeded Gonzaga probably looms after that, and we give FSU a 24 percent chance against the Zags — but the Seminoles would have a 48 percent chance of making the Final Four if they were to pull off the upset.Don’t bet on: No. 5 Marquette. Teams seeded fifth aren’t usually good bets to make it past the Sweet 16 anyway, but Marquette might be an especially bad pick. According to the FiveThirtyEight power ratings, the Golden Eagles are by far the worst No. 5 seed in the field, and a first-round date with breakout mid-major superstar Ja Morant didn’t do them any favors. Marquette has some star power of its own in junior guard Markus Howard, who ranks sixth in the nation with an average of 25 points per game, but this team lost five of its last six games and has a tough tournament road ahead of it.Cinderella watch: No. 10 Florida. The Gators may have been one of the final bubble teams to sneak into the field of 68, but they could be poised to do some damage now that they are here. They drew Nevada, a so-so No. 7 seed, in the first round, and we give Florida a 42 percent chance of pulling the upset there. Last year’s national runner-up, Michigan, likely waits in Round 2, and that is a tough matchup (23 percent odds for Florida) — but if the Gators win, they have a 38 percent chance of making the Elite Eight. In a region with a number of good-but-flawed options, Florida looks better than the typical 10-seed.Player to watch: Brandon Clarke, GonzagaThe linchpin of the Zags isn’t the consensus lottery pick, nor the two veteran guards who have together started 87 percent of Gonzaga’s games over the past two seasons. It’s Brandon Clarke, a transfer from San Jose State who is in his first active season with the team. He’s perhaps the most underappreciated player in the country.On a team that typically features a 7-footer protecting the rim, it’s Clarke, at 6-foot-8, who is tasked with protecting the paint this season. Clarke has responded by setting a single-season blocks record and posting the highest block rate of any team under Few.“If I feel like if I can get a good, quick jump first, I’ll pretty much jump with anybody,” Clarke told me. “I mean, I’ve seen Zion (Williamson) coming down through the lane before on TV, and if I can’t jump at the right time, I probably wouldn’t jump with him, but … I don’t really see myself not jumping with anybody.”Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Baylor over No. 8 Syracuse (48 percent); No. 10 Florida over No. 7 Nevada (42 percent); No. 12 Murray State over No. 5 Marquette (32 percent)