Jameis Winston, the probable No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, is currently showing off his abilities at Florida State’s pro day in Tallahassee. He’s reportedly going to throw between 90-110 passes. One of those passes really got away from him, leading to a pretty big collision on the sideline at the Semionles’ indoor facility. Check it out: Keep your head on a swivel, camera guy.
scoreboard at memorial stadium comes downDon’t worry, Oklahoma fans. What you’ll see in the below video was planned.Thursday night, Oklahoma purposely knocked down the skeleton of its scoreboard at Memorial Stadium, making way for a new video board that will span 8,750 feet. According to Tulsa World, the panels that accompanied the skeleton were removed and will be sold off.The new board will be up before the 2016 season.It’s gonna be Sweet #Brackets #OUDNA #BGB #SoonerMagic #Big12Champs pic.twitter.com/TUvnWf2h6E— Coach Drew Hill (@OU_CoachHill) December 3, 2015Video of the board coming down pic.twitter.com/0JP9oMRMmc— Siandhara Bonnet (@SiandharaB) December 3, 2015Despite the construction, Oklahoma’s 2015 campaign isn’t over. The Sooners are likely headed to the College Football Playoff.
San Francisco: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised his employees to “fight and win” if Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren wins the 2020 election and moves forward with her stated plan to break up the big US tech firms. Adopting a more aggressive style than he habitually uses in his public appearances, Zuckerberg directed his remarks at his employees last July to address questions about the firm’s present and future, an interview that was recorded and made public on Tuesday on the Web page The Verge, Efe news reported. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year “I mean, if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. … We care about our country and want to work with our government and do good things. But look … if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight,” he said. Also Read – New HP Pavilion x360 notebook with in-built Alexa in India Zuckerberg was referring to the Massachusetts senator’s proposal to split up the biggest tech firms – if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination and is ultimately elected in 2020 – given that she feels that they have “excessive” power both as market entities and in relation to their users or customers. On Tuesday, after the audio recording of Zuckerberg was released, Warren doubled down on her proposal and said on Twitter that “What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.” “I’m not afraid to hold Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon accountable. It’s time to #BreakUpBigTech,” the senator said in another tweet. In the recordings provided by The Verge, Zuckerberg justified his opposition to Warren’s plan by – among other things – saying that dividing big companies will not make interference in elections less likely, rather the reverse, given that in his judgment “the companies can’t coordinate and work together.” The tech giant based in Menlo Park, California, in recent years has been mired in a multitude of scandals that have significantly strained its public image, the biggest of these being the one involving British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which used an app to gather personal data on millions of Facebook users without their consent and then used that info for political ends. The consulting firm prepared psychological profiles on voters that it allegedly sold to the campaign of President Donald Trump during the runup to the 2016 election, among other things. Facebook is being investigated for potential monopolistic practices by the Federal Trade Commission, which earlier this year levied a $5 billion fine on the firm for failing to properly maintain user privacy.
Patna: At least 42 people have died in rain-related incidents in Bihar following a torrential spell that took place between September 27 and 30, authorities said.The state continued to trudge towards normalcy on Wednesday with intensified rescue and relief operations and water being pumped out of submerged localities. With a let up in the showers since Monday, restoration work was on in full swing. Supervising rescue and rehabilitation work in Patna on late Tuesday night, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar urged people to “have patience”. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadAccording to a release issued by the state disaster management department, 42 casualties have been reported so far from the districts affected by the heavy rainfall, though a district-wise break-up was not yet available. The release put the total number of people affected by the devastating spell at 17.09 lakh. The districts hit by the disaster were Patna, Bhojpur, Bhagalpur, Khagaria, Samastipur, Begusarai, Lakhisarai and Vaishali situated on either side of the Ganga besides Arwal, Nawada and Nalanda in the Magadh region and Darbhanga and Katihar in Mithila. Also Read – Firms staying closed 10 days a month due to recession, govt doing nothing: Priyanka GandhiThe state capital, which has been among the worst- affected, was pounded by 342.5 mm of rainfall during the period as against the state average of 255 mm, the release said. With restoration work being undertaken on a war-footing, all the sump houses were working at “full capacity” while three heavy-duty pumps have been brought in from Bilaspur to speedily flush out water from inundated areas of the city. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar waded through water-logged streets, with his pyjamas folded up to knees, supervising rescue and rehabilitation work. “All possible efforts are being made. People are urged to have patience….”
Bengaluru: Skipper Manish Pandey and opener K L Rahul shone with the bat as Karnataka defeated Chhattisgarh by 79 runs in their Elite Group A match of the Vijay Hazare trophy here on Wednesday. Put into bat first at M Chinnaswamy stadium, Karnataka rode on Rahul’s 81 runs and an unbeaten 142 by Pandey. It was a Rahul and Pandey show all the way, as the duo hammered the Chhattisgarh bowlers. Karnataka posted a decent 285/7 in their 50 overs, and managed to bundle out the opposition for 206 in 44 overs. Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: RijijuKarnataka lost opener Devdutt Padikkal (8) and Karun Nair (1) quickly. But Rahul and Pandey had other plans, as they conjured up a solid 150-run stand for the third wicket. Rahul, who was dropped from the Indian Test team against South Africa, made a statement of sorts to the national selectors. He hit six fours and a lone six in his patient 103- ball knock, as he played second fiddle to Pandey. For Chhattisgarh, pacer Pankaj Rao (2-60) and Shashank Singh (2-66) took two wickets each. Also Read – Djokovic to debut against Shapovalov at Shanghai MastersPandey blasted a quick-fire 142 off just 118 balls, which included five fours and seven sixes. While wickets kept falling at the other end, Pandey kept playing his shots and it was because of his incredible knock that Karnataka crossed the 280-run mark. Karnataka pacers M Prasidh Krishana (3-31) and Ronit More (2-52) ran through the Chhattisgarh top order, and they were struggling at 3-68. Then spinner Shreyas Gopal (3-53) spun his web around Chhattisgarh batsmen, as their chase never really took off. For Chhattisgarh, Amandeep Khare fought a lone battle with 43 out of 62 balls. Amandeep was the last man to be dismissed, as Chhattisgarh’s innings folded up at 206. Meanwhile, in the other Elite Group A match, Saurashtra thrashed Andhra by a whopping 153 runs, in which Samarth Vyas and Jaydev Unadkat shone with the bat and ball, respectively. In another match, Jharkhand pipped Kerala by five runs to grab four points in 36-over game that went down to the wire. Brief Scores: Karnataka 285/7 (Manish Pandey 142 not out, K L Rahul 81; Pankaj Rao 2-60) beat Chhattisgarh 206 all out (Amandeep Khare 43, Shashank Chandrakar 42; M Prasidh Krishna 3-31) by 79 runs. Karnataka four points, Chhattisgarh 0 points. Saurashtra 298/3 (Samarth Vyas 124 not out, V Jadeja 82; Manish Golamaru 1-40) beat Andhra 145 all out (Karan Shinde 52, Shoaib Khan 35; Jaydev Unadkat 3-18). Saurashtra four points, Andhra 0 points. Jharkhand 258/5 in 36 overs (Kumar Deobrat 54, Saurabh Tiwari 49; Sandeep Warrior 3-33) beat Kerala 253 all out (Sachin Baby 60, Vishnu Vinod 56; Anukul Roy 4-31, Utkarsh Singh 4-38) by five runs. Jharkhand four points, Kerala 0 points.
Kolkata: Paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary on Wednesday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in an apparent attack on the BJP leadership said the leader of the country should follow the Gandhian principles and take every religion and community along with him.Without naming any BJP leader, she said the best tribute to Gandhiji on his 150th birth anniversary would be to follow his principles of peace, non-violence and communal harmony. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaBanerjee also added that the country’s leader cannot be a person who creates division among the people. She was addressing a gathering on Mayo Road to commemorate Gandhiji’s birth anniversary. “Gandhiji preached us non-violence and we take his messages very seriously. We don’t need anybody to preach us. We would take advice only from those who have credibility. We only choose a person as our national leader who has the calibre to become a national leader. A national leader should be like Gandhiji and Netaji as both of them propagated the message of universal brotherhood. A national leader can never divide people along religious lines and instigate one community against another. To spread religious intolerance cannot be a motive of a national leader,” Banerjee said. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayDuring her brief speech, she stated that Barrackpore Gandhi Ghat would be developed as a tourist hub to attract more footfall from across the country. She also mentioned that her government has renovated Gandhi Bhawan at Beliaghata which was inaugurated on Wednesday. A museum has been set up showcasing various items which were associated with him. “Gandhiji had been at Belighata Gandhi Bhawan when we got our independence. He delivered messages of unity and spoke about national integration when clashes broke out between two communities following the Partition,” Banerjee maintained. The Chief Minister also added that a book on Gandhiji is being translated into various languages so that students get to know more about him and his contributions. She also felicitated the members of Gandhi Ashrams from Howrah and East Midnapore during the programme. Banerjee also paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi by laying wreaths on his statue on Mayo Road before delivering her speeches. Earlier in the day, she took to Twitter to pay homage to the Mahatma. “Homage to #MahatmaGandhi ji on his 150th birth anniversary. We will pay tribute to the Father of the Nation at his statue on Mayo Road, #Kolkata. To mark #GandhiJayanti, the historic Gandhi Bhavan in Beleghata, renovated by #Bangla Govt, will be inaugurated today #Gandhi150,” Banerjee tweeted. “The #Bangla Govt has taken up many other initiatives to celebrate #Gandhi150 anniversary, including setting up a university dedicated to #MahatmaGandhi ji in Purba Medinipur district #GandhiJayanti,” she further tweeted.
New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Thursday Article 370 of the Constitution was a roadblock for the development of Jammu and Kashmir and the journey of progress in the region began with the launch of the Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express train. Accompanied by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Union ministers Jitendra Singh and Harsh Vardhan, Shah flagged off the train from the New Delhi railway station. The ministers said the twin moves of the government — abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and launch of the Vande Bharat Express — will bring new India to a new Jammu and Kashmir and create a new history for the region. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework Flagging off the second such indigenous train, Shah said, “I believe that not only Article 370 was a roadblock for the unity of this country, but it was also the biggest roadblock for the development of Kashmir. I am sure that after the removal of this Article, we will be successful in completely eradicating terrorism and the ideas promoting terrorism in the area.” “Within the next 10 years, Jammu and Kashmir will be one of the most-developed regions of the country and the journey of development has begun with Vande Bharat Express, which is set to boost development and promote religious tourism,” he added. Also Read – Afghan Taliban frees 3 Indian hostages in exchange for 11 top militant leaders: Reports Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh said the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir was a gift for the people of the region after “three decades of struggle” and the launch of the train was another gift, which would contribute in building a “new Jammu and Kashmir”. “The Vande Bharat Express will bring new India to a new Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. Remembering Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary (on October 2), Shah said Gandhi gave a philosophy to the world about how to derive simple solutions to the biggest of problems. He expressed pride in saying that the Vande Bharat Express was totally “swadeshi” and at par with the latest rail transport technology across the world. “The railways should document its relationship with Mahatma Gandhi as it forms a significant episode in the country’s freedom struggle,” Shah said. The Vande Bharat Express will cut the travel time between Delhi and Katra to eight hours from the previous 12 hours. The New Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express (train number 22439) will depart from the New Delhi railway station at 6 am to reach Katra at 2 pm. En route, it will halt at Ambala Cantonment, Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi for two minutes each. On the return journey the same day, the Katra-New Delhi Vande Bharat Express (train number 22440) will leave from the Katra railway station at 3 pm to reach New Delhi at 11 pm. The train, also known as Train 18, will ply on all days of the week barring Tuesday. “The abrogation of Article 370 has connected the people of the country to Jammu and Kashmir and I believe that this train will become the symbol of the development and progress that this region will see in the years to come because of this brave move by the government,” Goyal said. He also promised that the railways will connect the country “from Kashmir to Kanyakumari” before August 15, 2022. The first Vande Bharat Express that runs between Delhi and Varanasi was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February. The New Delhi-Katra train has a bigger pantry compared to the first Train 18. It also has windows with a special provision to protect against stone-pelting and a cattle guard in the front to prevent damage to the train or derailment in case of cattle being run over. To avoid damage due to stray cattle, the train has been equipped with a sturdy aluminium-clad nose cover. The Integral Coach Factory (ICF) has added a slew of modern features such as adjustable seats, improved wash basins, automatic doors and WiFi to the coaches of the train.
Sivasagar (Assam): A sessions court here on Thursday awarded death sentence to Bikash Das for raping two women before murdering them and dumping their bodies in train toilets last year. Besides holding him guilty for his offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (murder), sessions judge S K Poddar also awarded Das rigorous life imprisonment for offence punishable under 376(1) IPC (rape) and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000. If he fails to pay the fine, his sentence would continue for another three months, the court said. The sessions judge on September 27 had let off Das’s accomplice due to lack of evidence. A 21-year-old student of Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat, was on July 10, 2018, found lying murdered with a ‘gamosa’ (an Assamese hand woven towel) tied around her neck in the toilet of an empty coach of Kamakhya Express at Simaluguri Railway Junction. The next day, on July 11, the body of a middle-aged woman was recovered from the toilet of a coach meant for physically challenged people of Dibrugarh-Rajasthan Avadh Assam Express. The woman, too, had a ‘gamosa’ tied around her neck with blood oozing out of the nose. Das was nabbed on July 12 from Tinsukia Railway Junction. He confessed to have raped and murdered the two women along with an accomplice. The RPF and police officers had said that Das was apprehended after a security man noticed him with a ‘gamosa’, similar to the one used for stifling the two victims. The police had also recovered the mobile phones of the victims from him, a pair of earrings which belonged to the student and an anklet of the middle-aged woman, the officials added. While pronouncing the verdict, the sessions court said that Das’s death sentence, however, is subject to confirmation by the Gauhati High Court, adding that he has been informed about his right to appeal against the judgment in a higher court.
New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Thursday Article 370 of the Constitution was a roadblock for the development of Jammu and Kashmir and the journey of progress in the region began with the launch of the Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express train.Accompanied by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Union ministers Jitendra Singh and Harsh Vardhan, Shah flagged off the train from the New Delhi railway station. The ministers said the twin moves of the government — abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and launch of the Vande Bharat Express — will bring new India to a new Jammu and Kashmir and create a new history for the region. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadFlagging off the second such indigenous train, Shah said, “I believe that not only Article 370 was a roadblock for the unity of this country, but it was also the biggest roadblock for the development of Kashmir. I am sure that after the removal of this Article, we will be successful in completely eradicating terrorism and the ideas promoting terrorism in the area.” “Within the next 10 years, Jammu and Kashmir will be one of the most-developed regions of the country and the journey of development has begun with Vande Bharat Express, which is set to boost development and promote religious tourism,” he added. Also Read – Firms staying closed 10 days a month due to recession, govt doing nothing: Priyanka GandhiMinister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh said the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir was a gift for the people of the region after “three decades of struggle” and the launch of the train was another gift, which would contribute in building a “new Jammu and Kashmir”. “The Vande Bharat Express will bring new India to a new Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. Remembering Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary (on October 2), Shah said Gandhi gave a philosophy to the world about how to derive simple solutions to the biggest of problems. He expressed pride in saying that the Vande Bharat Express was totally “swadeshi” and at par with the latest rail transport technology across the world. “The railways should document its relationship with Mahatma Gandhi as it forms a significant episode in the country’s freedom struggle,” Shah said. The Vande Bharat Express will cut the travel time between Delhi and Katra to eight hours from the previous 12 hours. The New Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express (train number 22439) will depart from the New Delhi railway station at 6 am to reach Katra at 2 pm. En route, it will halt at Ambala Cantonment, Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi for two minutes each. On the return journey the same day, the Katra-New Delhi Vande Bharat Express (train number 22440) will leave from the Katra railway station at 3 pm to reach New Delhi at 11 pm. The train, also known as Train 18, will ply on all days of the week barring Tuesday. “The abrogation of Article 370 has connected the people of the country to Jammu and Kashmir and I believe that this train will become the symbol of the development and progress that this region will see in the years to come because of this brave move by the government,” Goyal said.
Wellington: The government of Kiribati was accused Friday of attempting to bury a damning report into the Pacific island nation’s worst ferry disaster, which claimed 81 lives last year. Officials have reportedly released only a few hard copies of the report into the loss of the ferry MV Butiraoi, which sank in January last year after setting off from Nonouti island bound for the capital Tarawa. Ferries are a transport lifeline in Kiribati, which consists of 33 atolls and reefs scattered over an area the size of the continental United States. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: Report The report can only be viewed at President Taneti Maamau’s office or the national library in Tarawa, Radio New Zealand reported, adding that those who saw the document could not copy it or even take notes about its contents. Despite the extraordinary restrictions, former president Ierimia Tabai said he had seen the report and could relay its main findings. “There was one that the ship wasn’t seaworthy when it was allowed to sail,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protests Tabai said the report also criticised delays in the rescue effort, which was not launched until eight days after the ferry disappeared. It found only seven survivors in a dinghy and the rest of the 88 people on board perished, including 23 children. Maamau’s office did not respond to requests from AFP for a copy of the report. Tabai criticised the restrictions imposed on the report’s availability, saying the government appeared worried about the failings highlighted in the document. “It’s not on. It’s nonsense. It’s just not the sort of thing that should happen in a democracy like this,” he said. Maamau’s government faced criticism last year for obstructing Australian and New Zealand journalists wanting to travel to the remote Pacific nation to cover the disaster’s aftermath. The country’s last major ferry disaster was in 2009, when the Uean Te Rao II sank with the loss of 35 lives. A subsequent investigation found the vessel was unseaworthy and not carrying an emergency beacon, flares or sufficient life jackets. It also found safety standards on the Kiribati domestic fleet were not sufficiently enforced.
Mumbai: Allaying fears of any threat to the banking system, Reserve Bank governor Shaktikanta Das on Friday asked the public not to panic as the entire banking system, including cooperative ones, continue to remain sound and stable. Das also said in the wake of the crisis at Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank, the RBI is reviewing the existing regulatory framework for cooperative banks and will discuss the matter with the government. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraThe statement assumes importance as PMC is the 24th cooperative bank to be placed under RBI administrators in 2019 and there are many regulatory and administrative gaps in the system as the states have a big say in their matters. Also, there is political interference in their functioning. Urban cooperative banks are registered as cooperative societies either with the State Cooperative Societies Act or the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002 and are regulated and supervised by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies of the respective states or by the Central Registrar of Cooperative Societies. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysThe RBI regulates and supervises only the banking functions of the urban cooperatives and carries out on-site inspections and off-site surveillance on them and also issues directions and operational instructions to protect the interest of the depositors. “So far as the RBI is concerned, I would like to make it very clear that our banking sector remains sound and stable and there is no reason for any unnecessary panic,” Das told reporters at the customary post-policy presser. He said sometimes unnecessary rumours can create panic and urged the public to not to pay attention to them. On September 23, RBI had put a slew of restrictions on PMC after finding financial irregularities and under-reporting of loans given to the bankrupt real estate developer HDIL. Das claimed that RBI acted very swiftly and promptly, when the issue was brought to its notice. The RBI superseded the previous management and appointed administrator at the urban cooperative bank. It also revised the withdrawal limit from Rs an initial amount of Rs 1,000 per depositors to Rs 10,000 and very recently to Rs 25,000 per account. However, it can be noted that the scam and underreporting at PMC was on for the past several years and RBI’s own annual inspections did not find anything amiss all these years and the action came only after a board member blew the lid over on September 17. The governor also assured that RBI would not allow any cooperative bank to collapse. “One incident cannot be and should not be used to generalise the health of the cooperative banking sector,” he emphasised. Das said the RBI is also reviewing the regulatory framework of cooperative banks. “Based on our review, we will take a fresh look at the regulatory framework of the cooperative banks. If any changes are required, we will take up with the matter with the government,” he said. As per the confession made by the suspended managing director of PMC Bank Joy Thomas, the bank kept maintained its loans to HDIL-as much as over 73 percent of its book or Rs 6,500 crore of the Rs 8,880 crore assets, as standard even when the bankrupt real estate company was defaulting on repayments from the past two-three years. Asked why was RBI, which carries out annual inspection of all cooperative banks, was not able to identify the problems all these years, all Das said was that all aspects of PMC is being looked into. “Since the matter is under the investigation of the EOW, I would not like to go into any further now,” he said. On whether the deposit insurance cover should be enhanced from the present Rs 1 lakh, deputy governor NS Vishwanathan said there has been a demand for the same but no decision has been taken yet. “There has been a demand in the past as well but to the extent of deposit insurance cover, there are many elements that get into it as to how much percentage of deposits should get covered and how many percentage of depositors should be covered. Though there have been studies on the topic no final decision has been taken,” he said. Stating that RBI is monitoring the top 50 NBFCs and HFCs, he said, “RBI will endeavour to ensure that we do not encounter failure of another large systematically important NBFC. With that objective we are monitoring them.”
New Delhi: Hailing the standardisation of Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS), Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday said that bullet-resistant jackets manufactured according to the national BIS standards are safer, lighter, 50 per cent cheaper and even being exported.The formulation of the BIS standard on the bullet-resistant jacket has placed India in the select league of nations like the US, UK and Germany who have their own national standard. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad”BIS has formulated a national standard on bulletproof jacket which will promote Make in India. This jacket is of the best quality in the world and is also lighter in weight which is convenient for our jawans. Prices of these jackets are 50 per cent lower and as a result, more exports are taking place,” Paswan said adding that there is a demand of 3.5 lakh such jackets. “This jacket is better in all parameters. It is of best quality in has (sic) better safety mechanism. It is lightweight as well as cheaper by 50 per cent,” he added. These jackets have a weight in the range of 5.5 kg to 10 kg, almost half than the other jacket and also have a quick-release system. Prices are around Rs 70,000 per piece. The BIS standard, which has been formulated on the direction of Home Ministry and Niti Aayog prescribes the minimum performance requirements of bullet resistance jackets for protection against small arms and ammunition.
Muscat, the capital city of Oman, has come a long way from a non-descript patch of land in the Arabian peninsula, from a stretch of half a mile of coastline between Al Jalali and Al Mirani Forts, an Asphalt road no longer than 7 km and a landing strip for small aircrafts, to the present-day Muscat – covering an area of 3,900 sq km and 200 km of coastline, state of the art infrastructure in a clean and inviting environment and a city that is internationally acclaimed for its architecture, cleanliness, beautification, landscaping and infrastructure. Also Read – CANADA: A traveller’s delightA very short flight of 2 hours from Delhi, Oman Airlines managed to provide a taste of Omani authentic in-flight experience. I landed early morning at the gleaming Muscat International Airport. It looked like an oasis of calm with striking interior designs and chic furniture that will grab one’s attention instantly. While admiring the airport facilities, I realised the baggage hasn’t arrived at the designated belt despite waiting for thirty minutes. After a little bit of confusion and running around, I spotted my orphaned baggage standing alone at the remote corner belt. I ran to grab the luggage and rushed out, as our tour driver was waiting more than his due time. Also Read – Far from the cacophonyI apologised for the unexpected delay, to our driver Ahmed, a shy and soft-spoken Omani with a teethy and innocent grin flashing through his dental braces. Immaculately dressed in an ankle length, collarless gown with long sleeves called dishdasha in spotless white colour and a round shaped rich embroidered hat called Kumma, Ahmed, ushers me into the land cruiser vehicle. It was the crack of the dawn in the city and the outside weather was pleasant aidede with a cool and gentle breeze. The driver sped the vehicle from the airport on to the city roads to my hotel located in Jebel Sifah – a 75 km distance covered in less than an hour’s time. I sat next to the driver, to soak up the views flitting through the windscreen and the side window. People rushing to work and cars speeding at 100 kmph gave me a sense of modern road infrastructure in place. As we zipped past the intersections, fly overs, and town squares, my long-awaited Arabian travel adventure to the country of Sindbad finally started to unfold in front of my eager eyes. The initial impression are often said to be the truest and unadulterated impulses. I realised with in few minutes of driving into the Muscat, that it is going to be a very refined, culture-rich, tranquil and uncharacteristically different Arabian experience, unlike any other. Honestly, Muscat doesn’t seem to have any vertical ambitions unlike its rich gulf neighbours such as Dubai and Doha. Nor is it in the race of achieving superlative epitaphs of being the tallest, biggest, largest etc for itself. Oman is a quiet, confident and unpretentious country where anything they do is rooted in authenticity to their ethos and tradition. In the first glance, Oman seems to have successfully preserved its culture and tradition with a rare pride. And that steadfastness to remain rooted makes this tiny gulf country of Sultanate of Oman even more appealing and a must visit for any traveller. Oman has many hidden wonders up its sleeves. A six days trip seemed woefully short and discourteous to a country that is filled with natural beauty, adventure and known for its warm people and legendary hospitality. I decided to make the best of the time and shortlisted an itinerary that gave me an immersive, wholesome, adventure-filled and off-the-beaten path, cultural experience. Looks like a lot to ask for, isn’t it! Nevertheless, the next few days proved to be well spent and on-schedule covering few of the many surprises Oman has to offer. Oman has the most pleasant weather from September onward till April months, except for the summers which can be hot and sticky (June and August) to travel. Oman has one of the most enchanting shorelines I have ever seen. The waters around Oman are filled with rich marine life and dolphins thrive in the pristine waters of Muscat. Taking a boat ride and spotting the elusive and shy dolphins was a thrilling encounter from close quarters to experience. The next day I headed for Wadi Bani Auf situated in Al Hajar Mountain range. After a stomach girdling off-road drive with steep inclines and climbs on the rocky, jagged and brittle mountains, steep drop-offs and spectacular views of several canyons, it not only proved to be a nerve wrecking journey, but also the most dramatic and memorable off-road experience straight out of a cow-boys movie thriller backdrop. Our smart and tactful driver, sporting Prada sunglasses safely navigated the treacherous drive and sharp angles up the mountains to reach Oman’s own Grand Canyon in the village of Ghul that lies in Jebel Shams region (Mountain of Sun) and is the highest mountain peak in the Hajar mountain range. The mountain is also known as Grand Canyon of Arabia and is also considered by some, to be even better than Arizona in US, and is one of the top attractions in the country. The canyon is around 1km deep and with panoramic views of the majestic mountains and villages below. As the saying goes you only live once, and I wanted to fully adhere to the dictum. I finally seem to have understood what the phrase “life on the edge” fully meant after visiting this place! After a strenuous day trek, I reach my camp on top of the Jebel Shams. The location offered a window to the sky above and a beautiful frontline view of the valley and city below. A perfect setting and a balcony view to gape at the sky, stars and mountains in the clearest blue sky, I have witnessed in a long time. After a quick nap to relieve the stress, I ventured out armed with my camera to the remote spot to capture the breath-taking flaming red, orange and purple coloured sunset. A celestial symphony my eyes still can’t get over. With each passing minute the sky would change its hues and formation, a visual spectacle that had put me in raptures. The next morning, I headed for a unique place called Misfat Al Abriyeen, a touristy village over the cliffs, with narrow alleys and mud houses surrounded by palm trees. Small canals, gurgling water flowing through it and terraced vegetable plots was like seeing a little oasis amidst the dry and deep mountains and water bleached stones. It is a wonderful site to appreciate how with even minimal natural resources the villagers have created a paradise of their own. After the alluring trip to the rugged adventures of the Arabian mountains came time to soak up the subtlety and elegance of the understated Muscat. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is an imposing structure in an otherwise dwarf looking buildings of the city. It has a hand-woven carpet measuring 46,750 sq ft, a single piece covering the prayer hall with a seating capacity of 20,000 worshippers. The other feature that struck me was he 8.5 tons chandelier decked with 6,00,000 Swarovski crystals. Interestingly, 3,00,000 tonnes of Indian sandstone was used sculpted by 200 craftsmen from India to build the mosque. The next stop of the day was the Royal Opera House Muscat. The building is a mix of contemporary Omani architecture giving it a fort like modernist appearance. It is surrounded with formal landscaped gardens. It has rich and opulent interiors and a fully modular and automated stage for custom built operatic performances. It gave me a sense of this modern gulf nation that is carving a niche of its own and is keen for cultural engagement with the outside world. Oman’s national emblem is Khanjar superimposed upon two crossed swords. It is also a favourite souvenir for the tourists. I see people jostle with each other at Muscat favourite market Mutrah Corniche for buying Omani dates, the famed frankincense, silver jewellery, beads, pottery, carpets, lamps and the halwa. It is like entering an Aladdin’s cave filled with artefacts and antiques for cherry picking. After the chaotic shopping I enjoyed great view of the sea waterfront at the Corniche across the road with ships and yachts moored in the clear waters. Oman’s scenic diversity is uncharacteristically different from any of the other Arabian countries. Blessed with unique natural wonders and warm and humble people, Oman truly seems to typify that “beauty has an address”!
Thane: At least 13 people, including a police official, were injured in a clash between two groups at a hotel in Maharashtra’s Thane city in the wee hours of Sunday, police said. Trouble started around 12.15 am over parking of two- wheelers by some local youths in the premises of the Fountain Hotel, located on Ghodbunder Road here, when they came there for dinner. An initial argument between the youths and the hotel’s security staff resulted in a wordy duel following which other employees of the hotel came out in support of the guards. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad This led to a clash between the locals and the hotel’s staff members, Additional Superintendent of Police (Rural) Sanjay Patil said. The irate locals ransacked the hotel premises and smashed some its furniture and fittings, he said. On getting information about the incident, the police rushed in and baton-charged the mob to disperse the rioters, he said. Around 12 people, including members from both the sides, were injured in the incident, Patil said, adding that a police sub-inspector was also hurt while trying to control the situation. Later, both the sides filed cross-complaints. A case of rioting was registered and search was on for the accused, the police official said. Heavy security was deployed at the hotel, he said, adding that the situation was under control.
Hong Kong: Shouting “Wearing mask is not a crime,” tens of thousands of protesters braved the rain Sunday to march in central Hong Kong as a court rejected a second legal attempt to block a mask ban aimed at quashing violence during four months of pro-democracy rallies. The ban took force Saturday, triggering more clashes and destruction over the last two days in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. A teen protester was shot Friday night in the thigh after an off-duty police officer fired his pistol in self-defense. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: Report Lawmaker Dennis Kwok said the High Court refused to grant an injunction on the mask ban, but it agreed to hear later this month an application by 24 legislators against Hong Long leader Carrie Lam’s use of emergency powers to impose the measure by circumventing the legislature. The embattled leader has said the ban on masks, which allows radical protesters to conceal their identity, was needed to stop widespread violence that “semi-paralyzed” the city. It is also the biggest challenge for Chinese President Xi Jinping since the former British colonial returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protests Many malls, shops and the entire MTR network of subways and trains shut Saturday following the overnight rampage. About half of the city’s 94 subway stations reopened Sunday but many malls, especially in the Causeway Bay shopping district, remained shuttered as thousands of protesters marched with umbrellas and most of them wearing masks in defiance. Critics fear the use of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance that gives Lam broad powers to implement any measures she deems necessary in an emergency would pave the way for more draconian regulations. The law was enacted by British colonial rulers in 1922 to quell a seamen’s strike and last used in 1967 to crush riots. Lam has not ruled out further measures if violence continues. “This emergency law is so ancient and draconian. Carrie Lam is using it as some sort of weapon of mass destruction to nuke Hong Kong,” said legislator Claudia Mo. Even though the court rejected the legal challenge, Kwok and Mo welcomed the decision to expedite the hearing. The court didn’t give any dates but indicated it would be at the end of this month. “This is a constitutional case. The court has acknowledged there is controversy involving the use of the emergency law,” Mo said. Lam has said she will seek the backing of the legislature when it resumes Oct. 16. Mo called it a sham because only Lam has the power to repeal the mask ban under the emergency law. Many protesters who wore masks said Sunday the ban curtailed their freedom of expression. The ban applies to both illegal and police-approved gatherings, and carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine. “Carrie Lam is not the god of Hong Kong. She can’t do anything she likes,” said retiree Patricia Anyeung, who marched with her sister, Rebecca. Both wore masks. She said she has marched for months and won’t be cowed. “They can’t arrest us all. There are thousands of us,” she said. “There is no going back, we are at the point of no return.” Patricia Anyeung, who described herself as a wealthy retiree with a UK passport, said she may leave if Hong Kong’s freedom is extinguished. Some protesters spray painted the word “resist” along a pavement. Many peaceful demonstrators say violence has become a means to an end, the only way for young masked protesters to force the government to bend to clamors for full democracy and other demands. But the shooting of the teen Friday night the second victim of gunfire since the protests began in early June stoked fears of more bloody confrontations. An 18-year-old protester was also shot at close range by a riot police officer on Tuesday. He has been charged with rioting and assaulting police while the younger teen has been arrested. The protest movement that started in June over a now abandoned bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited for trial in mainland China has snowballed into an anti-China movement as protesters demand for more democratic rights including direct elections for the city’s leader and police accountability.