October 20, 2017

Premier League: Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho willing to sell Morgan Schneiderlin

Delhi/India/Politics by

London: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said on Friday he is willing to let midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin leave Old Trafford amid interest from Premier League rivals West Bromwich Albion.

File photo of Morgan Schneiderlin. AP

File photo of Morgan Schneiderlin. AP

Valentine Day Offer

File photo of Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin. Reuters

Schneiderlin, capped 15 times by France, has asked to leave United having made only eight appearances so far this season.

West Brom have made a bid for the player, according to British press reports, with the BBC saying the Baggies have offered £13 million ($15.9m, 15.2m euros).

Asked if the 27-year-old had told him he wished to move away, Mourinho replied: “Yeah. (He’s a) great professional, a fantastic boy, very honest, very open and (he) opens his heart a couple of times.

“My answer is simple: if he’s playing regular with me I have the right to say, ‘no way’. If he’s not playing regular I have no right to tell a player that wants to be happy, I have no right to say to a player, ‘you’re going nowhere’.

“My answer was — if the offer is right and our board thinks that the offer is a good offer in relation to the quality of a very good player like Morgan, I would not stop him to go.”

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:36 IST

Valentine Day Offer

Santa Claus’s endearing legend, and how it evolved over centuries of celebrating Christmas

Delhi/India/Politics by

He is a figment of the imagination — of many imaginations — and yet he is real. That is the enduring appeal of Santa Claus, still the most ubiquitous symbol of Christmas throughout the world. He personifies the merriment and the spirit of giving that pervades the atmosphere this festival. If Santa Claus were to be a contemporary entity, he would be a valued brand. Something to give the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook and Coca Cola a run for their money!

Representational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

Who is this jolly, chubby person, with a long white beard and red attire who takes over the popular imagination come December? Is he a commercial creation or a religious icon? Is he a messenger of goodwill or is he a reflection of our consumerist greed? Is he American in origin or is he European or did he come from Asia or from Africa?

There are no certain answers to these questions. The only possible assertion is that Santa as we know him now is a synthesis of multifarious influences and that he has evolved over many centuries.

As per a few extant theories, the earliest influences that could have metamorphosed into Santa’s most magical elements probably predate the arrival of Jesus. There are references in Roman writings to ‘Saturnalia’, a celebration in December where gift-giving was an integral part of the festivities. Flying reindeer, another element of the Santa Claus story, was suggested in cave paintings dating back to over thousands of years, say some scholars, says the book Flight of the Reindeer: The True Story of Santa Claus and His Christmas Mission, by Robert Sullivan.

Santa Claus has also borrowed many features from the Norse Gods Thor and Odin. Odin rode reindeer or a eight legged horse, while Thor had a long white beard, wore red clothes and descended down chimneys.

Santa’s story definitely begins at least with the fourth century CE St. Nicholas who lived in modern day Turkey (he was the Bishop of Myra). Stories of his generosity, his compassion and his love for children are all part of modern lore. The Dutch celebrated this revered Greek saint on 6 December and gifts for children were left next to the fireplace in this honour. It is widely believed that they carried the tradition to America. In 1821, the book The Children’s Friend was published in America, and it a ‘Sante Claus’:

Old Santeclaus with much delight
His reindeer drives the frosty night
O’er chimney tops and tracks of snow
To bring his yearly gifts to you. 

In 1822, Clement Moore is believed to have penned a poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas, more popularly known as ‘Twas the night before Christmas He fused the Dutch Sinterklass with elements from Germanic and Nordic mythology to create a new image of the Saint, and Santa Claus started coming into his own. In 1863, Thomas Nast featured an early illustration of Santa in A Christmas Furlough for Harper’s Weekly, but it was his 1881 iconic illustration for the same magazine that is immensely recognisable even today.

Another precursor to Santa Claus is the British idea of Father Christmas or Sir Christmas introduced by Ben Jonson in 1616 in Christmas his Masque, and later built upon by Thomas Nabbes. “Father Christmas then was essentially concerned with the adult world, personifying feasting and games. He had no connection with presents, and he was not treated with much respect, being generally a burlesque figure of fun. Then Santa arrived and he established roots in Britain and merged with Father Christmas to become ‘associated with children, bounty, and charity’,” according to Ronald Hutton’s Stations of the Sun.

Santa Claus then traveled to the rest of the world and was adapted and adopted by poets and writers, retailers and brands, and he is ever evolving. The myth and iconography of Santa Claus have since been enriched over the last two centuries, says Santa Claus: A Biography by Gerry Bowler. The future of Santa Claus has been debated for a long time — he has been under attack from many quarters. No one knows for sure where he came from — no one knows where he will go — but one hopes that with the childlike innocence and wonder beneath the many overpowering layers of his commercial form, the messages that are supposedly at the core of his legend are not lost: Be good and you shall be rewarded by Santa! Even more importantly, you can be someone else’s secret Santa too! Hope your secret Santa fulfills your wish this Christmas.

Garima is an independent business consultant and mentors startups. She is an Indic Studies enthusiast

Author’s Note: This piece is not meant to be an authoritative history of Santa Claus. It only mentions some of the important threads that are a part of the Santa Claus lore. Santa is referred to as “he” because a female Santa Claus does not seem to have caught on. Hopefully that will be the newest addition to the Santa stories!

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:36 IST

Libyan plane hijack: All passengers now released, says Malta PM

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A Libyan plane, reportedly hijacked by two people, landed in the Mediterranean island of Malta. The latest reports say that 25 passengers have left the hijacked Libyan plane and more are disembarking . An official from Afriqiyah Airways said the two hijackers have, however,  expressed their intention to keep the pilot.

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Friday tweeted that he had been alerted of a “potential hijack” of a Libyan plane reported to be headed for Malta. The tiny island is about 500km north of the Libyan coast.

Informed of potential hijack situation of a #Libya internal flight diverted to #Malta. Security and emergency operations standing by -JM

— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) December 23, 2016

The plane, carrying 118 people, including seven crew members landed in Malta at 11.32 am local time, Malta Today reported. Maltese media reported that the hijacked plane, flight number 8U209, left Sabha in South West Libya and was scheduled to arrive in Tripoli at 11.20 am, but was instead diverted to the tiny island of Malta. The A320 flight is operated by Afriqiyah Airways.

Hijacked Libyan plane. Reuters

Hijacked Libyan plane. Reuters

Hijacked Libyan plane. Reuters

BBC News reported that all flights in and out of Malta have been cancelled. Prime Minister Muscat further tweeted out saying that among those onboard, 82 were men, 28 women and one infant:

According to the Times of Malta, an hour after the hijack, the plane was surrounded by Maltese security forces.  The report added that one of the hijacker, believed to be pro-Gaddafi, is in possession of a hand grenade, while their demands are unknown.

There seemed to be a discrepancy on the number of hijackers, as an Associated Press quoting local television reports suggested there are two hijackers, who have threatened to blow the plane.

Malta Today added that all emergency teams have been dispatched to the site. The Malta International Airport called the hijack situation an “unlawful interference” on the airport tarmac.

Meanwhile, the office of Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat said the premier spoke to his Libyan counterpart, Fayez Serraj, on the hijacking. Serraj is leading the so-called Presidency Council and National Unity Government, both brokered by the United Nations as part of peace efforts to heal the country’s rift and end divisions.

The Maltese government also  confirmed that a negotiating team is on standby at airport awaiting instructions from the prime minister, who is in a meeting with the National Security Committee.

Libya has been in a state of chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi left warring militias battling for control of different parts of the country. Forces loyal to a fledgling national unity government recently took control of the coastal city of Sirte, which had been a bastion for the Islamic State group since June 2015.

With inputs from Agencies

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:02 IST

Copa del Rey: Barcelona travel to Athletic Bilbao; Sevilla host Real Madrid in round of 16

Delhi/India/Politics by

Madrid: Holders Barcelona will face familiar opponents in the shape of Athletic Bilbao in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey after Friday’s draw paired the sides together.

File photo of Lionel Messi. AP

File photo of Lionel Messi. AP

File photo of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. AP

Barca will go to San Mames for the first leg in the first week in January before hosting the Basque side in the return at the Camp Nou a week later.

Barcelona have beaten Athletic in three Copa del Rey finals in the last eight seasons and also emerged victorious when the sides clashed in the quarter-finals last season.

Luis Enrique’s side won the trophy by beating Sevilla 2-0 after extra time in the final in Madrid.

Sevilla have been drawn against Real Madrid, with the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, in a repeat of the UEFA Supercup at the start of this season.

Madrid won 3-2 after extra time in the Norwegian city of Trondheim in August thanks to a late goal by Dani Carvajal.

They will go to Seville for the return leg days before the sides meet in La Liga at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday, 15 January.

Atletico Madrid will meet Las Palmas, while Villarreal, currently fourth in La Liga, have been drawn against Real Sociedad.

One second-tier team is guaranteed to reach the quarter-finals after Alcorcon and Cordoba were drawn together.

Madrid club Alcorcon reached the last 16 by beating top-flight Espanyol on penalties while Cordoba eliminated Malaga.

Last 16 draw

Las Palmas v Atletico Madrid

Alcorcon v Cordoba

Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona

Real Madrid v Sevilla

Real Sociedad v Villarreal

Deportivo la Coruna v Alaves

Valencia v Celta Vigo

Osasuna v Eibar

First legs scheduled to be played on Wednesday, 4 January; second legs on 11 January.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 18:32 IST

Jolly LLB 2 makers and cast sued by Bata for projecting footwear brand in bad light

Delhi/India/Politics by

It is ironic that a courtroom drama like Jolly LLB 2 is in legal trouble. Footwear giant Bata has sent legal notices to the makers and actors of the film for projecting the brand in bad light.

Akshay Kumar in a still from Jolly LLB 2. YouTube

Akshay Kumar in a still from Jolly LLB 2. YouTube

Akshay Kumar in a still from Jolly LLB 2. YouTube

Deccan Chronicle reports that Bata has sent the notice to Fox Star Studios, executive producer Naren Kumar, directors Deepak Jacob, Amit Shah and Subhash Kapoor, actors Annu Kapoor and Akshay Kumar, YouTube, PVR Cinemas and Satyam Cineplexes.

The footwear brand has a contention with the scene shown in the recently released theatrical trailer of the film in which Kapoor’s character humiliates Kumar’s character by saying that the latter wears Bata shoes. Kumar’s character feels humiliated and slaps Kapoor’s character as a reaction.

As per the report by Deccan Chronicle, the petition states, “The dialogue is intended to convey that the brand BATA is adorned only by lower strata of society and one should feel humiliated if one wears BATA footwear, in fact the expression and reaction to such a dialogue by Akshay Kumar in the trailer shows that even the person to whom such a statement is hurled took the same extremely negatively and slapped Annu Kapoor in Open Court as if he has been severely abused in the dialogue or he has been hurled with deliberate effort to tarnish the brand image of Bata, “perhaps at the instance of some competitors of [Bata] whose products are promoted by Mr Akshay Kumar as a brand ambassador.”

Interestingly, Kumar endorses the footwear brand Relaxo which is a competitor of Bata.

A similar controversy plagued the makers of the 2010 cop drama Dabangg when the healthcare brand Emami sued them for depicting their product Zandu Balm in derogatory light. Arbaaz Khan struck an out of the court settlement with Emami as a result of which his wife and fellow co-producer of the film Malaika Arora Khan became the brand ambassador of the lotion.

Arbaaz went on to bank on this controversy in Dabangg 2 as he invited a host of brands for an auction where the highest bitter will be compensated with a lyrical product placement in an item song picturised on Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan. And then, Fevicol happened.

However, the makers of Jolly LLB 2 should not take a cue from that instance and should issue an apology personally as well as publicly, as demanded by Bata, if they go on to admit to their folly.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 18:31 IST

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