Merkel party chief swings ahead in race to be next chancellor

Merkel party chief swings ahead in race to be next chancellor
Armin Laschet, CDU federal chairman and minister president of North Rhine-Westphalia, arrives at the CDU presidium meeting in front of party headquarters in Berlin, Germany, Monday, April 12, 2021. (AP)
Updated 12 April 2021

Merkel party chief swings ahead in race to be next chancellor

Merkel party chief swings ahead in race to be next chancellor

BERLIN: The head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU secured the backing of the party’s top brass on Monday, party sources told AFP, in a key boost for his campaign to succeed the veteran leader at elections in September.
As head of the CDU, Armin Laschet would normally be a shoo-in to head the party and the CSU, its smaller Bavarian sister party, to the polls on September 26 — when Merkel will retire after 16 years as chancellor.
But with public support for the conservatives tumbling over their recent handling of the coronavirus pandemic, some have called for Laschet to step aside in favor of Markus Soeder, the more popular CSU leader.
However, after a key huddle of the party’s top brass on Monday, a party source told AFP that “the CDU leadership is in favor of Armin Laschet running as the (conservative) candidate in the 2021 election campaign.”
While the backing of the party heavyweights does not mean Laschet is home and dry in the race, it is seen as a key indicator of who the alliance will end up picking.
Long-time Merkel ally Laschet, 60, took over as CDU leader in January but has since suffered a series of setback including a damaging spat with Merkel over virus containment measures.
As head of the country’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Laschet defended his region’s broad interpretation of national virus measures, calling for “more freedom and flexibility.”
He was also ridiculed on social media for saying he needed time to “think about” how to deal with Germany’s spiralling third wave over Easter, and accused of flip-flopping when he then appeared to change his mind with calls for a “bridge lockdown.”
Soeder, meanwhile, has been praised for taking a hard line on virus measures in Bavaria and has sought to align himself with Merkel, arguing that the chancellor should help decide who would be her successor.
“A CDU-CSU candidate without the support of Angela Merkel will not be successful,” he told Bild last weekend.
The Star Trek fan and fancy-dress loving Bavarian also insisted in an interview with Spiegel magazine that the candidate needed to be “accepted by the whole population, not just the party.”
Soeder has consistently beaten Laschet in recent popularity polls, with one survey by public broadcaster ARD showing that 54 percent of Germans thought he would be a good chancellor candidate, compared to just 19 percent for Laschet.
The Bavarian premier had remained tight-lipped about his ambitions to be chancellor candidate, but openly declared his willingness to run for the first time on Sunday — on the condition that he had the backing of the more powerful CDU.
A final decision expected some time in the next two weeks, according to German media reports.
Trust in the CDU-CSU has been severely hit in recent months by a sluggish vaccination program and a corruption scandal over mask procurement, leaving the conservatives at record lows of less than 30 percent.
With the once fringe Green Party now just a few points behind them, the CDU-CSU could face the real prospect of losing the chancellery for the first time since 2005.


US Navy says seizes huge weapons cache in Arabian Sea

US Navy says seizes huge weapons cache in Arabian Sea
Updated 10 min 4 sec ago

US Navy says seizes huge weapons cache in Arabian Sea

US Navy says seizes huge weapons cache in Arabian Sea
DUBAI: The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet said Sunday it had seized a huge cache of illicit Russian and Chinese weapons from a stateless dhow sailing in international waters of the North Arabian Sea.
The Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, said the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey intercepted the vessel and discovered the cargo during a routine boarding, in a two-day operation on May 6-7.
“The cache of weapons included dozens of advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles, thousands of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, and hundreds of PKM machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades launchers,” it said in a statement.
The arms are in US custody and their source and intended destination is under investigation, it said.
The Fifth Fleet said the Monterey was in operation for 36 hours, providing security for boarding teams.
“After all illicit cargo was removed, the dhow was assessed for seaworthiness, and after questioning, its crew was provided food and water before being released.”
The statement did not indicate where the vessel may have come from, but said the US Navy’s regular patrols in the region “disrupt the transport of illicit cargo that often funds terrorism and unlawful activity.”

‘Grown-ish’ actress Yara Shahidi teases collaboration with Adidas

‘Grown-ish’ actress Yara Shahidi teases collaboration with Adidas
The US-Iranian actress is set to make her design debut with sportswear giant Adidas. File/AFP
Updated 38 min 43 sec ago

‘Grown-ish’ actress Yara Shahidi teases collaboration with Adidas

‘Grown-ish’ actress Yara Shahidi teases collaboration with Adidas

DUBAI: Part-Middle Eastern star Yara Shahidi is set to drop a new global collection created in collaboration with sportswear giant Adidas. The “Grown-ish” actress this week posted a teaser of her collaboration on Instagram, and the response to her designer debut is overwhelmingly positive.

 “Y’all knew this was coming #collab (sic),” she captioned a video of herself wearing a mustard yellow track jacket with a teal collar worn over a white shirt. “Yessss,” wrote US singer Justine Skye in the comments section, applauding her friend over her latest venture.

According to Shahidi’s Instagram post, the new line will be titled Recreate x Yara.

While Adidas hasn’t officially confirmed the news yet, it seems that Shahidi has been dropping hints about a collaboration with the sportswear giant for quite some time now — either that, or she’s just a dedicated Adidas fan. The 21-year-old has been championing the brand for months and has been seen multiple times wearing collaborations from the brand’s other partnerships, including lines with Pharell Williams and Beyonce.

In an IGTV video, the actress revealed that Beyonce sent her an entire clothing rack filled with Ivy Park x Adidas swag before the pieces even hit the shelves.

She also starred in a campaign for the brand’s signature Superstar sneakers in 2020.

The US-Iranian star appeared in the “Change is a Team Sport” advert alongside K-Pop girl group Black Pink, as well as Jonah Hill, Pharrell Williams and Anitta, among many others.

More recently, the Minneapolis-born actress starred in the latest Adidas Originals x Disney Stan Smith campaign.

Shahidi has been quite busy lately.

In addition to her forthcoming clothing line with Adidas, the multi-hyphenate is also developing two new television series via her production company, 7th Sun Productions.

The 21-year-old star is set to executive produce and develop an on-screen adaptation of Cole Brown’s critically-acclaimed debut book “Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World” and single-camera comedy series “Smoakland” alongside her mother, and business partner, Keri Shahidi.

Additionally, the actress, who is the youngest network producer ever, is set to star as Tinkerbell in Disney’s “Peter Pan and Wendy.”

Production on the new film, which is expected to arrive sometime in 2022, is currently underway in Vancouver, Canada.


Netanyahu says Israel firmly rejects pressure not to build in Jerusalem

Netanyahu says Israel firmly rejects pressure not to build in Jerusalem
Updated 33 min 21 sec ago

Netanyahu says Israel firmly rejects pressure not to build in Jerusalem

Netanyahu says Israel firmly rejects pressure not to build in Jerusalem
  • Pope Francis has also called for an end to the violence in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM: Israel “firmly rejects” pressure not to build in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday following spreading international condemnation of planned evictions of Palestinians from homes in the city claimed by Jewish settlers.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis expressed his concern at the unrest in Jerusalem, saying: “Violence only generates violence. Let’s stop these clashes.”
“I pray so that this might be a place of encounter and not violent clashes, a place of prayer and of peace. I invite everyone to seek shared resolutions so that the multireligious identity and multiculture of the holy city might be respected and so that fraternity might prevail,” he said after reciting the Regina Caeli prayer.


Emirates converts 16 passenger planes to carry cargo

Emirates converts 16 passenger planes to carry cargo
Updated 09 May 2021

Emirates converts 16 passenger planes to carry cargo

Emirates converts 16 passenger planes to carry cargo
  • It comes as some big airlines are faced with competing forces of supply and demand in the cabins and bellies of their aircraft

DUBAI: Emirates has converted 16 passenger planes to transport cargo and is also using some of its fleet to carry goods in the cabin.
Nabil Sultan, Emirates SkyCargo divisional senior vice president said the airline was studying its capacity, in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Sunday.
“So far we have converted 16 passenger aircraft to fully cargo flights,” he said. “We also use the remaining fleet, where we have put cargo in the main cabin, especially to move essential PPE goods and various other medical material.”
It comes as some big airlines are faced with competing forces of supply and demand in the cabins and bellies of their aircraft — as cargo volumes accelerate while at the same time passenger numbers remain subdued.
Earlier on Sunday Emirates said it would begin shipping aid for free into India to help fight the coronavirus.
It comes as air cargo demand has risen to its highest recorded level ever in the wake of the pandemic.


Ramadan recipes: This freekeh-stuffed chicken is comfort food for the soul

Ramadan recipes: This freekeh-stuffed chicken is comfort food for the soul
(Supplied)
Updated 09 May 2021

Ramadan recipes: This freekeh-stuffed chicken is comfort food for the soul

Ramadan recipes: This freekeh-stuffed chicken is comfort food for the soul

DUBAI: Jordanian Chef Hassan Al-Naami shares his delectable recipe for fragrant freekeh-stuffed chicken, a dish that is wildly popular at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, where he brings his culinary vision to life at the hotel’s Middle Eastern restaurant, Amaseena.

As Ramadan draws to a close, give this dish a go for a special iftar this week.

Chicken ingredients:  

Whole baby chicken

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp paprika

1/3 tbsp 7 spice

½ tbsp coriander powder

2 ½ tbsp lemon juice

1 handful of almonds

1 handful of pine nuts

Freekeh ingredients:

5 cups freekeh 

3 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup onion (chopped)

1 tsp cinnamon powder

½ tsp cardamom powder

1 tbsp 7-spice

1 ½ tbsp cumin powder

6 cups chicken stock

Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:

1.       Wash and drain freekeh until clean. In a hot pan combine olive oil and spices, toss for a few minutes till fragrant. Add the freekeh then sauté for another 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes on a low heat. The freekeh should be cooked but still have a chewy texture.

2.       Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a small bowl, mix all the spices and rub chicken with spices all over and inside, including under the skin. Take the cooked freekeh and stuff the chicken with it, cross the legs and tie with twine. Place the chicken in a roasting tray, cover with foil and roast for 60-80 minutes. Allow the chicken rest before serving (keeping it covered).

3.       Serve stuffed chicken on over leftover cooked freekeh. Decorate with roasted nuts and serve with minted yogurt on the side.