Friday, 4 July 2014

China bans Ramadan fasting in Muslim province



Students and civil servants in the northwestern Xinjiang province have been ordered to not observe traditional fasting.



Students and civil servants in China's Muslim northwest have been ordered by the state to avoid taking part in traditional fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Statements posted in the past week on websites of schools, government agencies and local party organisations in the Xinjiang region said the ban would protect students' wellbeing and prevent the use of schools and government offices to promote religion, the AP news agency reported on Thursday.

Statements on the websites of local party organisations said members of the officially atheist ruling party should also avoid fasting, although the month of Ramadan, which began at sundown on June 28, is observed by Muslims.

"No teacher can participate in religious activities, instill religious thoughts in students or coerce students into religious activities," said a statement on the website of the "Number 3 Grade School" in Ruoqiang County in Xinjiang.

The news agency reported that cities in Xinjiang had set up news portals saying that fasting was detrimental to the physical wellbeing of young students, and also have called in retired teachers to stand guard at mosques in order to prevent students from entering.

Similar bans have been imposed on fasting in the past. This year's ban was unusually sensitive because Xinjiang is under tight security following a number of attacks that the government blames on Muslim rebels who allegedly have ties with foreign armed groups.

On Tuesday, authorities in some communities in Xinjiang held celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party and served food to test whether Muslim guests were fasting, according to Dilxat Raxit, spokesman in Germany for the rights group World Uyghur Congress.

"This will lead to more conflicts if China uses coercive measures to rule and to challenge Uyghur beliefs," Dilxat Raxit told AP.

Violence has escalated in recent years in Xinjiang. The ruling party blames rebels who it says wants independence, while members of the region's Uyghur ethnic group complain that discrimination and restrictions on religion, such as a ban on taking children to mosques, fuels anger at the ethnic Han Chinese majority.

Wary of religious activities

An attack on May 22 in the regional capital of Urumqi by four people who threw bombs in a vegetable market killed 43 people, including the attackers.

On June 22, police in Kashgar in the far west said they killed 13 attackers who drove into a police building and set off explosives, injuring three officers. Authorities have blamed two other attacks at train stations in Urumqi and in China's southwest on Muslim rebels.

The government responded with a crackdown that resulted in more than 380 arrests in one month and public rallies to announce sentences.

According to AP, the ruling party is wary of religious activities which it worries might serve as a rallying point for opposition to one-party rule. Controls on worship are especially sensitive in Xinjiang and in neighbouring Tibet, where religious faith plays a large role in the local cultures.




Source: Associated Press

MUGABE ORDERS WHITE FARMERS OFF OF LAND

Robert Mugabe


On Wednesday, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (pictured) told White farmers that they must get off the land, because his nation is not a place for White landowners, according to AllAfrica.

Speaking in Mashonaland West at the A1 Model Settlement Tenure Permit, President Mugabe spoke of the reported few hundreds of White farmers who still own land in Zimbabwe.

“There are White farmers who are still on the land and have the protection of some cabinet ministers and politicians as well as traditional leaders.

“I have been given a list of 35 White farmers in Mashonaland West alone and in just a few districts that have been audited. We say no to Whites owning our land and they should go.”

President Mugabe then went on to clarify what Whites could actually own in his homeland, “They can own companies and apartments in our towns and cities but not the soil. It is ours and that message should ring loud and clear in Britain and the United States.”

Clearly just warming up, President Mugabe then turned his sights on Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling him a “boy from the streets.”

“We had an agreement with the Margaret Thatcher government and when Tony Blair came he reneged on that agreement. I pleaded with him to review his decision but he was a boy from the street with no experience so he stuck to his guns,” said the veteran leader.

“I was not amused and told him to keep his England and we would keep our Zimbabwe. We will not pay for our land and we will not ask our people to pay for it because they never paid for it in the first place.

“They were selling to each other among themselves, and we will not recognise any of that nonsense. They were living like kings and queens on our land and we chucked them out. Now we want all of it.”

Whites came from Europe and South Africa in the 1890s. The Land Apportionment Act of 1930 divided the lands by tribes: Whites, Shona, and Ndebele. And while traditionally, Africans shared the lands communally, the new laws that favored Whites made it nearly impossible for Africans to get financing, equipment, and training to farm large plots of land.

But Whites, who obviously already had a mastery of Western land ideology,  understood title deeds to land and were consequently able to buy and develop large areas of land for commercial farming businesses.

Their Western and White advantage led to other advantages, such as prime land in the fertile upland region, and not surprisingly, the White population flourished.

Meanwhile, Africans were regulated to low rainfall areas, forcing 99 percent of the population on to 25 percent of the land.

By 1979, Whites consisted of only 5 percent of the population, with only 4,500 farmers, but owned 70 percent of the fertile land.

Mugabe came to power on the heels of the Lancaster House Agreement in 1980, which stated that Mugabe couldn’t make any land reform changes for 10 years.

After decades of stops and starts in attempting to redistribute land back to Africans, by 2000, Zimbabwe government instituted the Fast-Track Land Reform Program, violently forcing mostly White farmers off their lands without compensation — earlier iterations of land reform ensured that Whites would be compensated for the lands they occupied.

The government reportedly seized 110,000 square kilometers of land and millions of Black farmers were said to have become unemployed.

By 2005, the Parliament agreed to nationalizing all farmland, silencing farmers who wanted to contest the land grab in court.

Today, the benefits of redistributing land among Africans cannot be comprehensively considered for two prime reasons: many of the beneficiaries of land that was formerly “owned” by Whites have reportedly had little experience in managing commercial farmland properly; this fact has supposedly caused crop production to plummet in the country. In addition, the United States froze the nation’s credit once the Fast Track Land Reform was passed, almost immediately cutting Zimbabwe’s trade surplus deficit of $322 million in 2001 to a deficit of $18 million by 2002.


Source: http://face2faceafrica.com/

The secret of a happy marriage? Sleep naked: People who wear nothing in bed are most content in relationships

Of 1,004 Britons, 57 per cent of those who sleep in the nude said they were happy in their relationships (file picture)

The best way to keep a marriage happy is to sleep in the nude, a study suggests.

Those who wear nothing in bed are more content in their relationships than those who cover up, according to a poll.

Of 1,004 Britons, 57 per cent of those who sleep in the nude said they were happy in their relationships, compared with 48 per cent of those in pyjamas, 43 per cent of nightie wearers and 38 per cent of those in onesies.

The best way to keep a marriage  happy is to sleep in the nude, a study suggests (file picture)

The findings of the poll for Cotton USA will be good news for many, since four in ten of us now sleep naked, and almost half - 45 per cent - of over-55s do so.

Stephen McKensie, 33, from Portsmouth said: ‘I have been sleeping in the nude for six years now and it’s so much more  comfortable than wearing  pyjamas or boxer shorts.

‘My wife does it too, and we have never been happier. It helps you relax when you’re in bed.’

Stephanie Thiers-Ratcliffe, of Cotton USA, said: 'There are many factors which can affect the success of a relationship.

'But one factor which is often overlooked is the bedroom environment.

'Bedding can feel extremely soft against the skin, encouraging openness and intimacy between couples and ultimately increasing happiness.'

The research also revealed our partner’s bedroom manners affect our happiness in relationships.

Half of us are bothered by people eating in bed, 59 per cent of us detest dirty washing on the floor and 23 per cent hate it when their partner wears socks in bed.




Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2674385/The-secret-happy-marriage-Sleep-naked-People-wear-bed-content-relationships.html#ixzz36WvXGKI2

Report: Barcelona close in on $130M deal with Liverpool for Luis Suarez


FBL-WC2014-QUALIFIERS-URUGUAY-PRESSER

After a day of talks between Barcelona and Liverpool were deemed “productive” by the Reds, Luis Suarez appears close to completing his preferred move to the Catalan giants.

The talks were held between Liverpool’s chief executive, Ian Ayre, and a host of Barcelona delegates including their director of football management, Raul Sanllehi.

Barcelona reportedly opened the negotiations with an offer in the range of $103-120 million (£60-70m), which fell well short of the $137 million (£80m) release clause inserted into the new deal Suarez signed with the Anfield club last December.

That provision, as well as the fact that the contract runs through 2018, are the main bargaining chips for Liverpool in the negotiations. The Liverpool Echo is reporting that the Reds informed the representatives of Barcelona that they would accept $77 million (£45m) for Suarez plus Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez, currently valued around $52 million (£30m).

A deal involving Sanchez looks unlikely, however, as the forward is believed to either want to stay at Barcelona or to move to Arsenal. His reported position did not deter Liverpool, with the club happy to accept straight cash for the Uruguayan with most reliable sources citing a range of $120-$130 million (£70-75m).

From all indications, it’s a deal that both sides seems confident will get done with a Liverpool source saying:

The talks were productive. There were sensible expectations on both sides and there will be further discussions to take place. But nothing is finalized as of now.

Expect this deal to be finalized before the end of July and more likely than not over the next few weeks. If Liverpool are to lose the striker who bagged them 31 league goals last year the club will need to act quick to replace him with the August 16th Premier League opener looming large.

Rumors have Brendan Rodgers close to a deal for 19-year-old Belgian sensation Divock Origi and has spent $69 million (£40m) this summer on Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Emre Can.



Source: NBCSports

The lack of black faces in the crowds shows Brazil is no true rainbow nation

Brazil's Neymar gestures to the crowd

The World Cup was supposed to show Brazil's cultural diversity. All it's really exposed is the country's deep-rooted prejudices

Remember the Where's Wally books? They consisted of a series of detailed double-page spread illustrations depicting hundreds of people doing a variety of amusing things. Readers were then challenged to find a character named Wally hidden in the crowd.

Covering the World Cup in Brazil as a journalist, I find myself playing a similar game whenever I enter a packed stadium, only this time the question is a bit more serious. Where are all the black folk? I've been to five host cities so far and each time the answer was never easy to come by – I've even missed goals while looking through the crowd.

Salvador is the most Afrocentric city in Brazil. At the Germany v Portugal game, however, if I didn't know any better I would think I was in Kansas.

In São Paulo, Fortaleza, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, the same thing. Where have all the black people gone? This in a country with the biggest population of African descent outside of Africa. Brazil is sold internationally as a rainbow nation, as close to a racial democracy as any country can get. To some degree it's true; for all its sheer size and diversity there are no ethnic or religious conflicts and everyone speaks the same language. Socially, though, it's a different story. The government hoped to use the World Cup to showcase the country's cultural diversity and thriving democracy in all its splendour, but all it did was to highlight the deep-rooted prejudices and inequalities in this nation of 200 million.

So, in a piece of land where 60% of the population is black or mixed, why then, during one of the most important single events in its history, is the absence of those 60% so conspicuous?

The answer is as obvious as it is tragic. Most black people in Brazil are poor. Unlike in South Africa or the United States, there's no black middle class, and perhaps most importantly there isn't a black political class. A World Cup ticket is officially priced between $90 and $1,000, but in a country where the minimum wage is a little above $350 a month, a seat at the Maracanã is out of many people's reach.

In Fortaleza, for Germany v Ghana, there were obviously more black people than usual in the stands – but apart from the Ghanaians, the only black people anywhere near the stadium were the poor residents from the nearby favela, selling drinks and snacks to white middle-class fans, who couldn't be bothered with the long queues inside the arena. Or for those who didn't feel like walking the 3km imposed by Fifa from the road blocks to the stadium, there were throngs of poor, black, favela kids ready to take the fans on their bikes.

Guardian

Brazilians have always had a peculiar attitude towards race. This was the country's football superstar, Neymar, four years ago, when asked if he had ever been a victim of racism. "Never. Neither inside nor outside the field. Because I'm not black, right?"

The players of the national team are clearly mostly black or mixed race (including Neymar): many though, dye their hair blond (including Neymar). Other Brazilian sporting heroes have equally dismissed the issue of race in the past. Ronaldo has also denied his black heritage, and the country's biggest football icon, Pele, is too busy doing commercials to say anything meaningful on the issue.

In 1888 slavery was officially abolished in Brazil – the last country in the western hemisphere to do so. Fast forward to 2012 and it enacted one of the world's most sweeping affirmative action laws, requiring public universities to reserve half of their admission spots for the largely poor students in the nation's public schools and vastly increase the number of university students of African descent across the country. Brazilian officials said at the time that the law signified an important shift in Brazil's view on offering opportunities to large swaths of the population.

However, for all the things this World Cup has provided, opportunities for its black population isn't one of them. On this particular issue Brazil has scored an own goal.


Source: http://www.theguardian.com/

NIGERIAN OWNS 3 BRITISH AIRPORTS, NEW DIRECTOR AT GOLDMAN SACHS: ADEBAYO OGUNLESI

Nigerian owns 3 British airports, new director at Goldman Sachs: Adebayo Ogunlesi

Goldman Sachs has appointed Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian investment banker and private equity tycoon, to its board of directors, the company said in a press release on Monday.

Ogunlesi, 59, is the chairman of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an infrastructure investment firm he co-founded.

Ogunlesi is popularly referred to as The Man Who Bought Gatwick Airport in African business circles- a reference to a 2010 deal in which he led GIP’s $2.4 billion acquisition of London’s Gatwick Airport. Ogunlesi also led the company’s acquisition of London City Airport and Edinburgh Airport in 2006 and 2012, respectively.

In a press statement, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said that Goldman Sachs’ shareholders will benefit from Adebayo’s “wealth of knowledge and rigorous thinking”. “He has advised companies and institutions around the world and invested in many of the most important sectors in the global economy,” Blankfein said.

According to a brief biographical sketch from Ventures Africa, Adebayo (known as Bayo) Ogunlesi is the son of Nigeria’s first professor of medicine. He attended the prestigious King’s College Lagos, received a B.A with first class honors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, a law degree and MBA from Harvard University.

He practiced law for two years at Cravath, Swaine & Moore after clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He then pursued a career on Wall Street. From 1983 to 2006 he held various positions at Credit Suisse Investment Bank and its predecessor firms. Ogunlesi is also the Chairman of Africa Finance Corporation, a Pan-African infrastructure investment firm.



Source: Mfonobong Nsehe, http://www.forbes.com