DUBAI: Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was greeted by hundreds of fans during a visit to Expo 2020 Dubai for a Q&A session at the site’s Al-Wasl plaza, state news agency WAM reported.
The Manchester United forward and Portuguese international discussed his journey as a football player, and praised Dubai for being unique and different.
“Dubai always brings something to the table, unique and different,” he said.
Ronaldo is believed to be spending the international break in Dubai with his family, the WAM report said.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was impressed by the expo, according to local media.
He said: “It is unbelievably impressive. Bringing 192 nations with their culture and traditions under one roof is very exciting.”
Ronaldo advised fans to take care of their physical and mental health. “I am fit because I take care of my body. Do everything that makes your body and mind healthy,” he said.
LAHORE: Pakistani police called Monday for the wildly popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) game to be banned after a teenager confessed to killing four members of his family in a rage after bingeing for days playing online.
Police said Ali Zain shot dead his mother, two sisters and a brother on January 18, and claimed under questioning at the weekend that the game had driven him to violence.
“This is not the first incident of its nature,” police investigator Imran Kishwar told reporters in the eastern city of Lahore, adding “so we have decided to recommend a ban.”
PUBG is an online multiplayer “battle royale” game in which the winner is the last survivor.
Kishwar said Ali, 18, lived in complete isolation in his room and was addicted to the game.
Dawn newspaper quoted a Lahore police officer as saying Ali “fired at his family thinking that they will also come back to life, as happened in the game.”
Often likened to the blockbuster book and film series “The Hunger Games,” PUBG has become one of the world’s most popular mobile games.
Telecoms authorities in Pakistan have previously temporarily blocked access to the game after complaints about its violent content.
The game has been banned — briefly or permanently — in several other countries, including India and China.
NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand: A cafe in northeast Thailand has become home to cryptocurrency traders, adding banks of screens showing the latest market moves and dishing out investment advice alongside coffee and cake.
Behind a calm exterior of cherry blossom trees, customers of HIP Coffee & Restaurant stare at their laptops, supping nervously on iced coffee — part of a surging interest in digital assets in Thailand that has regulators worried.
“It’s exciting for me to be here because I get to meet people who share the same interests,” said Detnarong Satianphut, a 35-year-old crypto trader.
“We (traders) get to exchange information because in the trading world we are coming up against millions of people.”
Cryptocurrencies have been gaining momentum in Thailand, with as much as 251 billion baht ($7.62 billion) in digital asset traded in November, according to the latest official data.
Earlier this month https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL4N2U52CL, Thailand said it would start to regulate the use of digital assets as payments, warning of potential risks to financial stability and the overall economic system.
HIP cafe, which has been around since 2013, got its crypto makeover in 2020.
Since then, according to staff, its customers have doubled. Manager Oakkharawat Yongsakuljinda said the cafe provides alternative investment opportunities for people in the surrounding Nakhon Ratchasima province.
It offers free investment consulting and is planning on starting its own cryptocurrency coin.
Its customers say trading in the cafe offers them the best chance of success in a volatile market, in which the most well known cryptocurrency, bitcoin, hit six-month lows this week.
“Having so many screens helps a lot … We immediately know and get to analyze crashing factors and whether we should buy,” said 23-year-old trader Apakon Putnok.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand: A pregnant New Zealand journalist says she turned to the Taliban for help and is now stranded in Afghanistan after her home country has prevented her from returning due to a bottleneck of people in its coronavirus quarantine system.
In a column published in The New Zealand Herald on Saturday, Charlotte Bellis said it was “brutally ironic” that she’d once questioned the Taliban about their treatment of women and she was now asking the same questions of her own government.
“When the Taliban offers you — a pregnant, unmarried woman — safe haven, you know your situation is messed up,” Bellis wrote in her column.
New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told the Herald his office had asked officials to check whether they followed the proper procedures in Bellis’s case, “which appeared at first sight to warrant further explanation.”
New Zealand has managed to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum during the pandemic and has reported just 52 virus deaths among its population of 5 million.
But the nation’s requirement that even returning citizens spend 10 days isolating in quarantine hotels run by the military has led to a backlog of thousands of people wanting to return home vying for spots.
Stories of citizens stranded abroad in dire circumstances have caused embarrassment for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her government, but Bellis’s situation is particularly striking.
Last year, she was working for Al Jazeera covering the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan when she gained international attention by questioning Taliban leaders about their treatment of women and girls.
In her column Saturday, Bellis said she returned to Qatar in September and discovered she was pregnant with her partner, freelance photographer Jim Huylebroek, a contributor to The New York Times.
She described the pregnancy as a “miracle” after earlier being told by doctors she couldn’t have children. She is due to give birth to a girl in May.
Extramarital sex is illegal in Qatar and Bellis said she realized she needed to leave. She repeatedly tried to get back to New Zealand in a lottery-style system for returning citizens but without success.
She said she resigned from Al Jazeera in November and the couple moved to Huylebroek’s native Belgium. But she couldn’t stay long, she said, because she wasn’t a resident. She said the only other place the couple had visas to live was Afghanistan.
Bellis said she spoke with senior Taliban contacts who told her she would be fine if she returned to Afghanistan.
“Just tell people you’re married and if it escalates, call us. Don’t worry,” Bellis said they told her.
She said she sent 59 documents to New Zealand authorities in Afghanistan but they rejected her application for an emergency return.
Chris Bunny, the joint head of New Zealand’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine system, told the Herald that Bellis’s emergency application didn’t fit a requirement that she travel within 14 days.
He said staff had reached out to Bellis about making another application that would fit within the requirements.
“This is not uncommon and is an example of the team being helpful to New Zealanders who are in distressing situations,” Bunny wrote.
Bellis said that pregnancy can be a death sentence in Afghanistan because of the poor state of maternity care and lack of surgical capabilities.
She said that after talking to lawyers, politicians and public relations people in New Zealand, her case seems to be moving forward again, although she has yet to be approved passage home.
NAIROBI: Kenya’s sports minister said Saturday that “suspected fraud” was behind the national women’s football team being suddenly withdrawn from the Africa Women Cup of Nations, and vowed to punish those responsible.
The Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) said it pulled the Harambee Starlets from the continent-wide competition at the request of the sport’s governing body in Kenya, the FKF.
But sports minister Amina Mohamed said no such request was authorized and duplicity was suspected.
“We have learnt that there is a suspected fraudulent letter that was purportedly written to CAF to withdraw our heroines, Harambee Starlets, from the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifier against Uganda,” she said in a statement.
The minister said the Starlets were determined to reach the finals in Morocco later this year and were training ahead of the qualifier slated for February 17.
She said “any attempt to interfere with that must be condemned and not be allowed to succeed.
“Anyone found to have been involved in any such attempt will be held fully accountable.”
But in a statement on Saturday, CAF said the Starlets had already been withdrawn.
“The double-header between Kenya and Uganda initially scheduled in February 2022 as part of the last qualifying round is therefore canceled,” it said.
In November, Mohamed disbanded the FKF over corruption allegations and appointed a caretaker committee to oversee the sport in Kenya for a period of six months.
The FKF’s suspended chief was later charged with corruption, accused of embezzling millions of Kenyan shillings.
On Saturday the committee chairman, Justice Aaron Ringera, told CAF that Kenya had not withdrawn and it was trying to resolve the confusion “as a matter of urgency.”
“We would like to assure Kenyans, Ugandans and CAF that all measures will be put in place to ensure the match goes on as planned,” Ringera wrote.
Kenyan football has long been beset by financial woes often stemming from poor management and corruption, while Kenya’s men’s national team have failed to shine on the pitch.
MENDON: A Boston hospital is defending itself after a man’s family claimed he was denied a new heart for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, saying most transplant programs around the country set similar requirements to improve patients’ chances of survival.
The family of D.J. Ferguson said in a crowdfunding appeal this week that officials at Brigham and Women’s Hospital told the 31-year-old father of two that he was ineligible for the procedure because he hasn’t been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“We are literally in a corner right now. This is extremely time sensitive,” the family said in its fundraising appeal, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars. “This is not just a political issue. People need to have a choice!”
D.J.’s mother, Tracey Ferguson, insists that her son isn’t against vaccinations, noting he’s had other immunizations in the past. But the trained nurse said Wednesday that he’s been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation — an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm — and that he has concerns about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“D.J. is an informed patient,” Tracey Ferguson said in a brief interview at her home in Mendon, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Boston. “He wants to be assured by his doctors that his condition would not be worse or fatal with this COVID vaccine.”
Brigham and Women’s Hospital declined to comment on D.J. Ferguson’s case, citing patient privacy laws. But it pointed to a response that it posted on its website in which it said the COVID-19 vaccine is one of several immunizations required by most US transplant programs, including a flu shot and hepatitis B vaccines.
The hospital said research has shown that transplant recipients are at higher risk than non-transplant patients of dying from COVID-19, and that its policies are in line with the recommendations of the American Society of Transplantation and other health organizations.
Patients also must meet other health and lifestyle criteria to receive donated organs, and it’s unknown if D.J. Ferguson did or would have met them.
Brigham & Womens Hospital also stressed that no patient is placed on an organ waitlist without meeting those criteria, and rejected the notion that a transplant candidate could be considered “first on the list” for an organ — a claim Ferguson’s family made in its fundraising post.
“There are currently more than 100,000 candidates on waitlists for organ transplantation and a shortage of available organs — around half of people on waiting lists will not receive an organ within five years,” the hospital said.
Hospitals in other states have faced similar criticism for denying transplants to patients who weren’t vaccinated against COVID-19.
In Colorado last year, a woman suffering from late-stage kidney disease said she was denied a transplant by her hospital because she was unvaccinated. Leilani Lutali, a born-again Christian, said she opposed immunization because of the role that fetal cell lines play in some vaccines’ development.
There is a scarcity of donor organs, so transplant centers only place patients on the waiting list whom they deem the most likely to survive with a new organ.
“A donor heart is a precious and scarce gift which must be cared for well,” said Dr. Howard Eisen, medical director for the advanced heart failure program at Penn State University in Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Our goal is to preserve patient survival and good outcomes post-transplant.”
The United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit that manages the country’s organ transplant system, doesn’t track how many patients refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine have been denied transplants, said Anne Paschke, an organization spokesperson.
She said patients who are denied organ transplants still have the right to go elsewhere, though individual hospitals ultimately decide which patients to add to the national waitlist.
According to the online fundraiser, D.J. Ferguson was hospitalized in late November for a heart ailment that caused his lungs to fill with blood and fluid. He was then transferred to Brigham and Women’s, where doctors inserted an emergency heart pump that the family says is only meant to be a temporary stopgap.
“It’s devastating,” Tracey Ferguson said. “No one ever wants to see their child go through something like this.”