Belgian elderly care home beats the heat with paddling pool

Belgian elderly care home beats the heat with paddling pool
Old residents at the Ter Biest house for elderly persons refresh their feet in a pool as a heat wave hits Europe, in Grimbergen, Belgium on Tuesday. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 July 2022

Belgian elderly care home beats the heat with paddling pool

Belgian elderly care home beats the heat with paddling pool
  • Windows were kept shut, the garden ruled out of bounds and fitness classes were cancelled
  • Staff handed out hats, played music and helped residents dip their feet into a small pool

GRIMBERGEN, Belgium: Staff at a Belgian care home set up a paddling pool in the dining room and handed out ice creams on Tuesday as they helped elderly residents cope with a heatwave gripping much of Europe.
Windows were kept shut, the garden ruled out of bounds and fitness classes were canceled at the Ter Biest home in Grimbergen, north of Brussels, as temperatures climbed.
Instead, staff handed out hats, played music and helped residents who wanted to dip their feet into the small pool.
“People don’t really feel they have to drink a lot, so they can get dehydrated and it’s really dangerous for older people,” said stand-in manager Annick Van huylenbroeck.
“It’s different now. It’s warmer than it used to be,” said 91-year-old resident Lucienne Verbelen.
The Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium said it was 37.7 degrees Celsius on parts of the Belgian coast at 1300 GMT and that the Brussels neighborhood of Uccle had registered its warmest July 19 ever at 36.4 degrees.

Actor, former MMA fighter Shah Hussain to feature in upcoming film

Actor, former MMA fighter Shah Hussain to feature in upcoming film
Updated 28 March 2023

Actor, former MMA fighter Shah Hussain to feature in upcoming film

Actor, former MMA fighter Shah Hussain to feature in upcoming film
  • Star was involved in choreographing the fight scenes of ‘Morris Men’

LONDON: British Pakistani actor Shah Hussain, who was formerly a professional mixed martial arts fighter, is set to star in an upcoming film, “Last Respects.”

Hussain has appeared in a number of popular productions, including Netflix’s “Red Notice,” SKY AMC’s “Gangs of London,” and Apple TV’s “Slow Horses.”

Featuring in “Morris Men,” Hussain played the role of Huss Ellis and, due to his extensive martial arts experience, he was closely involved behind the camera in choreographing the movie’s fight scenes.

In addition to being the first professional Pakistani MMA fighter in the early 2000s, he is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Hussain stars alongside a cast of prominent stars, including Peter Andre, Sean Cronin and Mark Pegg, in his forthcoming project “Last Respects.” The plot revolves around three gangsters who pay their respects to their ringleader, only to discover that it is a test of their loyalty.

Nestle hands out limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars in Canada

Nestle hands out limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars in Canada
Updated 28 March 2023

Nestle hands out limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars in Canada

Nestle hands out limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars in Canada
  • The 30-piece bars, which have one piece for each day of Ramadan, were given away in partnership with social media influencers in the country

LONDON: Food and beverage company Nestle Canada partnered with Muslim content creators to give away limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars for Ramadan.

Where regular KitKats contain two or four chocolate-covered wafer fingers, this extra-large version has 30 — one for every day of the holy month.

Nestle Canada said the special version of the snack was designed to commemorate the Iftar tradition observed by Muslims when they have their evening meal after fasting all day during Ramadan. KitKat’s long-time advertising slogan is “Have a break, and the company added that it wanted to celebrate the breaking of the fast at sundown.

Nestle Canada gave away the special KitKat Iftar Bars through partnerships with selected social media influencers in the country.


Prince Harry makes surprise showing at UK privacy case

Prince Harry makes surprise showing at UK privacy case
Updated 27 March 2023

Prince Harry makes surprise showing at UK privacy case

Prince Harry makes surprise showing at UK privacy case
  • Others taking part in the legal action include Elton John, Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost

LONDON: Britain’s Prince Harry on Monday made an unexpected appearance at London’s high court for a hearing in a privacy claim launched by celebrities and other figures against a newspaper publisher.
The publisher of the Daily Mail, Associated Newspapers (ANL), is trying to end the high court claims brought by high-profile figures including Harry and singer Elton John over alleged unlawful activity at its titles.
Harry, who now lives in California after quitting royal duties in 2019 and launching a barrage of criticism of the British royal family, was pictured arriving at the court in central London.
Others taking part in the legal action include actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost as well as John’s husband David Furnish, Doreen Lawrence — the mother of murder victim Stephen Lawrence — and former Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes.
Lawyers for the group told the court the publisher of the Daily Mail commissioned the breaking and entry into private property, illegally intercepted voicemail messages and obtained medical records.
“The claimants each claim that in different ways they were the victim of numerous unlawful acts carried out by the defendant, or by those acting on the instructions of its newspapers, The Daily Mail and The Mail On Sunday,” lawyer David Sherborne said in written submissions to the court.
The alleged unlawful included “illegally intercepting voicemail messages, listening into live landline calls, obtaining private information, such as itemised phone bills or medical records, by deception..., using private investigators to commit these unlawful information gathering acts on their behalf and even commissioning the breaking and entry into private property,” Sherborne said.
The alleged wrongdoing dates from 1993-2011, but some went on as late as 2018, he added.
Harry, also known as the Duke of Sussex, sat near the back of the court, two seats away from fellow complainant Frost.
ANL has described the allegations as “preposterous smears” and a “pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone-hacking scandal.”
Britain’s phone hacking scandal, which first blew up in 2006, saw journalists at the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World hack into the voicemails of royals, celebrities and murder victims.
It triggered the closure of the mass-selling Sunday tabloid, a mammoth police investigation, a judge-led inquiry and criminal charges that gripped Britain for years.

A spokesperson for ANL also said the allegations were “unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims, based on no credible evidence.”
A four four-day preliminary hearing is being held at the high court with ANL arguing that the allegations are “stale” and should be dismissed without a trial.
Harry, the younger son of Britain’s King Charles III, has long had a difficult relationship with the media.
His mother Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 after she and her companion, Dodi Fayed, left the Ritz Hotel pursued by paparazzi photographers.
In 2019 while on a tour of South Africa with his wife Meghan, Harry linked media intrusion to Diana’s death and spoke of his fears of history repeating itself.
“I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum,” he told television journalist Tom Bradby, accusing sections of the media of waging a “ruthless campaign” against Meghan.
“Everything that she (Diana) went through, and what happened to her, is incredibly important every single day, and that is not me being paranoid, that is just me not wanting a repeat of the past,” he said.
Both Harry and Meghan have been involved in other recent legal action targeting British newspapers.
The couple, whose popularity ratings have plummeted, have dominated headlines in the past few years due to a string of interviews, a Netflix series and Harry’s autobiography “Spare” in which they complained bitterly about their treatment as working members of the royal family.
Buckingham Palace has not responded to the claims, while the late Queen Elizabeth II famously commented that “recollections may vary.”

It’s no joke: club helps Jordanians win comedy gold

It’s no joke: club helps Jordanians win comedy gold
Updated 27 March 2023

It’s no joke: club helps Jordanians win comedy gold

It’s no joke: club helps Jordanians win comedy gold
  • Since its 2019 inception, Amman Comedy Club has trained people in stand-up comedy, sketch shows, satirical writing

AMMAN: When life gave them lemons, two Jordanians launched a club to train people in the art of comedy in a country where years of economic woes have left little to laugh about.

Since being founded in 2019, the Amman Comedy Club has been training aspiring comics, offering free, three- to four-month workshops in stand-up, improv, comedy sketches and satire writing.

Aided by foreign institutions such as the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and with the help of Chicago-based comedy club The Second City, the club has already trained more than 140 people.

The new comedians hoping to put a smile on Jordanian faces range in age between 18 to 40 and include students, doctors and lawyers among others, keen to learn the art of comic timing and delivery.

“Comedy is a message, and our message is to make people laugh,” said Moeen Masoud, one of the club’s co-founders. “If you come to this place and spend two hours laughing and forget about your problems and worries, this means I have fulfilled my message.”

It is part of the founders’ broader social mission. “In our daily lives, we face a lot of economic, social and psychological pressures, and the best way to relieve these worries is to laugh,” the other co-founder Yazan Abu Al-Rous added.

Jordan’s deep economic difficulties were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to official figures, unemployment rose in 2021 to about 25 percent — and up to 50 percent among young people.

With public debt exceeding $47 billion, or more than 106 percent of the gross domestic product, the poverty rate also increased to an unprecedented 24 percent that year.

Shining a light on social issues through comedy could also help the country as societies need criticism “in order to grow and be able to fix their defects,” added Abu Al-Rous.

Masoud lamented that “comedy did not get the attention it deserves in Jordan.” “We have great ambitions, beyond Jordan. We aspire to have a tour in the Arab world and the wider world for Jordanian comedians and hope to train many people around the world.”

The duo has also spearheaded efforts to dispel one lingering notion about their compatriots.

“There is a stereotype that Jordanians do not laugh,” said Abu Al-Rous, who has a master’s degree in business administration.

“We at ACC wanted to challenge this idea and prove the opposite to the world, that we love laughter and jokes.”

So far, the club graduates have performed shows across Jordan and are also training students at private schools in stand-up comedy.

The club also runs psychological support courses for children in areas that host Syrian refugees.

Among the club’s graduates are now well-known comedians, who have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and perform weekly shows in Amman.

Graduate Abdullah Sobeih, 25, said his training taught him “how to choose topics that affect people’s lives, how a comic story is built.”

With over 340,000 followers on Instagram, the business graduate hopes his new career can help fellow Jordanians “make them forget their worries.”

“We know that people suffer from problems and pressures ... we are trying to bring them to this place in order to offer some relief,” Sobeih said.

He is among four of the club’s better-known alumni, alongside Kamal Sailos, Abdulrahman Mamdouh, and Yusef Bataineh, who are slowly establishing themselves as household names in Jordan.

In the 350-seat Al-Shams Theatre, the trio perform separate stand-ups to an audience of mostly young men and women.

“Our country is the only country in the world that when you google its name the results would show Michael Jordan,” said Yusef Bataineh to roars of laughter at the comparison of the Hashemite kingdom with the legendary US basketball player

What time is it in Lebanon? Depends on who you ask...

What time is it in Lebanon? Depends on who you ask...
Updated 26 March 2023

What time is it in Lebanon? Depends on who you ask...

What time is it in Lebanon? Depends on who you ask...
  • Caretaker PM Najib Mikati postponed decision to April 20
  • Religious bodies, parties, business, media vent frustration

LONDON: The Lebanese government’s decision to delay the start of daylight saving by a month has further divided the nation already crippled by medicine shortages, a severe financial crisis and rising corruption cases.

The decision on Thursday by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to “exceptionally” postpone daylight saving to midnight on April 20 instead of March 25 has sparked dispute, with several politicians, businesses, citizens and even media outlets refusing to comply with the delay.

Gebran Bassil, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, said in a tweet that the move was “not acceptable” and “carries obvious messages,” calling for appeals against it.

Leaked footage of a conversation between Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri prompted many to take to social media to either support or denounce the decision, at times using sectarian rhetoric.

In the video, which shows the two officials discussing daylight saving, Berri suggests that instead of shifting fast-breaking time to 7 p.m., it should remain at 6 p.m. “until the end of Ramadan.”

“This matter goes beyond daylight saving. It is an existential issue for us; the Christians of the East,” one Twitter user wrote.

Another person said he has already advanced his clocks “so that Lebanon continues to resemble us and every patriot, whether Christian or Muslim.”

Others found this an occasion for dark humor. Lebanese journalist Jad Ghosn tweeted: “Starting tomorrow, appointments should be (scheduled) according to either LBC or NBN,” in reference to the two Lebanese TV channels, one of which is Christian-run while the other is owned by the Berri family.

“Unbelievable!” he concluded.

An Instagram user suggested that now in Lebanon, instead of asking "What time is it?", people will be asking "What is your religion?".

LBCI was not the only media outlet to reject the government’s decision. OTV, a newscaster launched by Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, also announced that it would not abide by Mikati’s decision and, instead, would advance its lock an hour at midnight.

Describing the government’s decision as “last-minute” and “absolutely unprepared,” L’Orient-Le Jour and L’Orient Today said in a statement it would not be possible to amend its schedule at short notice.

The Lebanese news platform, which describes itself as independent, said its decision was not only driven by technical challenges but also by political aspects. “We refuse … to waste time and energy to implement a decision taken with revolting levity and negligence, by political leaders totally disconnected from the reality of the country,” the statement read.

The country’s flagship air carrier Middle East Airlines issued a statement highlighting that to ensure smooth traffic from March 26 to April 20, “departure timings of all flights departing from Rafic Hariri International Airport – Beirut would be shifted by one hour earlier during this period.” Also, the timetable for “inbound flights from foreign airports” would “remain the same without any modification, according to the local time in the country of departure.”

Several businesses in the hospitality sector, such as Centrale Restaurant in Beirut, confirmed on their social media accounts that they would switch to daylight saving time.

Religious and educational institutions were also among those refusing to comply with the decision. The Maronite Catholic Archeparchy of Antelias announced in a statement it would observe daylight saving time while scheduling masses and prayers.

College Notre-Dame de Jamhour stated on social media that it would follow universal time.

Daylight Saving Time starts in mid- or late-March in many parts of the world. This year it coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which started on the evening of Wednesday March 22 in most Middle East nations.