Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star

Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star
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Amer Abo Nawas holds a board used for explaining to his social media followers the roles of the players on the field during a football match. (AFP)
Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star
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Amer Abo Nawas watches a football match before creating content to post on his social media page, at his home in Zarqa, Jordan. (AFP)
Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star
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Amer Abo Nawas drinks water as he takes a break from preparing a video about a football match to be posted on his social media page "HouseAnalyzer". (AFP)
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Updated 05 February 2023

Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star

Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star
  • Abu Nawas’ Facebook page offering analysis of European football leagues matches has cultivated 243,000 followers
  • The 27-year-old was born with brittle bone disease, that has meant he rarely leaves his home

ZARQA: Having spent most of his life housebound due to a medical condition, Jordanian Amer Abu Nawas’s love of football has propelled him to social media stardom.
Offering analysis of matches from the leading European football leagues to almost a quarter of a million followers, his Facebook page — “HouseAnalyzer” in Arabic — has grown into what he describes as a “big family.”
The 27-year-old was born with osteogenesis, or brittle bone disease, a genetic condition hindering normal bone growth that has meant he rarely leaves his home in Zarqa, 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Jordan’s capital Amman.
“It is true that I have never played football in my life, and have never attended any match, but for me football is everything,” Abu Nawas told AFP.
With no schools in the country catering to his needs, Abu Nawas grew up spending much of his time watching football matches, analizing the teams and playing football video games.
“This always made me feel like it is taking me from this world to a different one,” he said.
His relatives noticed his passion and encouraged him to publish his match analyzes online.
In 2017, he launched his Facebook account, which now counts more than 243,000 followers.

Filmed on a phone in his bedroom, Abu Nawas’s videos usually feature him wearing a football jersey, excitedly commenting on matches and news from the world of football.
Discussing leagues from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, he sometimes uses a football pitch-shaped board to explain tactical nuances.
One of Abu Nawas’s latest videos reached more than 1.4 million viewers and he has started posting on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.
He said he was grateful for modern technology allowing him to connect with so many people.
“From this room, from this small place isolated from the world, I was able to cross these walls, reach people, communicate with them, create content, and become what I am today,” he said.
He expressed sadness at sometimes seeing people attack each other in comments to his posts, and said his relationship with his followers was “like a family.”
“This family is growing day by day, and I hope it will reach as many followers as possible,” he added.
Abu Nawas’s own family do their best to provide him with a comfortable life.
He is the youngest of three brothers and his father is a doctor and his mother a pharmacist.
Inside his room are shelves with a PlayStation, a computer and plastic baskets keeping items he might need.
On his bed are phones, remote controls, headphones and a long stick used to reach distant items.

“He has his own world, in a room with a temperature of 27 degrees to avoid cold and pneumonia. He can operate anything using the remote control,” his father Yussef told AFP.
He said his son has friends who occasionally visit.
“When he feels bad, they take him out for a tour in a minibus,” he said.
Abu Nawas lamented that in Jordan “nobody cares” about people with diseases like his, and said he wished he had had the opportunity to attend school.
“The conditions for people with special needs are catastrophic,” he said.
“I could not learn because there are no special schools for people like me.”
Last year, the organizers of the football World Cup invited him to attend the tournament in Qatar.
But due to travel difficulties linked to his condition, he arrived late and missed the matches he was scheduled to attend.
Even so, Abu Nawas said it was “the best 10 days of my life.”
“I know my condition, I learned to be content, and I will remain so,” he said.
“Disability need not be an obstacle to success.”

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

It’s no joke: club helps Jordanians win comedy gold
Updated 5 min ago

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.

Actor Jonathan Majors arrested on assault charge in New York

Actor Jonathan Majors arrested on assault charge in New York
Updated 26 March 2023

Actor Jonathan Majors arrested on assault charge in New York

Actor Jonathan Majors arrested on assault charge in New York
  • The star of the recently released “Creed III” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania,” was involved in a domestic dispute with a 30-year-old woman: NYPD

NEW YORK: The actor Jonathan Majors was arrested Saturday in New York on charges of strangulation, assault and harassment, authorities said.
New York City police said that Majors, star of the recently released “Creed III” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania,” was involved in a domestic dispute with a 30-year-old woman. Police responded around 11 a.m. to a 911 call inside an apartment in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea.
“The victim informed police she was assaulted,” a spokesperson for the NYPD said in a statement. “Officers placed the 33-year-old male into custody without incident. The victim sustained minor injuries to her head and neck and was removed to an area hospital in stable condition.”
He was no longer in police custody as of Saturday night, the NYPD spokesperson confirmed to The Associated Press.
A representative for Major denied any wrongdoing by the actor.
“He has done nothing wrong,” said the representative in an email to the AP Saturday. “We look forward to clearing his name and clearing this up.”
Majors is one of the fastest rising stars in Hollywood. After breaking through in 2019’s “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” Majors has starred in “Da 5 Bloods,” “The Harder They Fall” and last year’s “Devotion.” He also stars in the recent Sundance Film Festival entry “Magazine Dreams,” which Searchlight Pictures is to release in December.



Large asteroid to zoom between Earth and Moon

Large asteroid to zoom between Earth and Moon
Updated 25 March 2023

Large asteroid to zoom between Earth and Moon

Large asteroid to zoom between Earth and Moon
  • An observatory in La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, first spotted the asteroid on February 27
  • The asteroid will again swing past Earth in 2026

PARIS: A large asteroid will safely zoom between Earth and the Moon on Saturday, a once-in-a-decade event that will be used as a training exercise for planetary defense efforts, according to the European Space Agency.
The asteroid, named 2023 DZ2, is estimated to be 40 to 70 meters wide, roughly the size of the Parthenon, and big enough to wipe out a large city if it hit our planet.
At 19:49 GMT on Saturday it will come within a third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon, said Richard Moissl, the head of the ESA’s planetary defense office.
Though that is “very close,” there is nothing to worry about, he told AFP.
Small asteroids fly past every day, but one of this size coming so close to Earth only happens around once every 10 years, he added.
The asteroid will pass 175,000 kilometers from Earth at a speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour. The moon is roughly 385,000 kilometers away.
An observatory in La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, first spotted the asteroid on February 27.
Last week, the UN-endorsed International Asteroid Warning Network decided it would take advantage of the close look, carrying out a “rapid characterization” of 2023 DZ2, Moissl said.
That means astronomers around the world will analyze the asteroid with a range of instruments such as spectrometers and radars.
The goal is to find out just how much we can learn about such an asteroid in only a week, Moissl said.
It will also serve as training for how the network “would react to a threat” possibly heading our way in the future, he added.
Moissl said preliminary data suggests 2023 DZ2 is “a scientifically interesting object,” indicating it could be a somewhat unusual type of asteroid. But he added that more data was needed to determine the asteroid’s composition.
The asteroid will again swing past Earth in 2026, but poses no threat of impact for at least the next 100 years — which is how far out its trajectory has been calculated.
Earlier this month a similarly sized asteroid, 2023 DW, was briefly given a one-in-432 chance of hitting Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046.
But further calculations ruled out any chance of an impact, which is what normally happens with newly discovered asteroids. Moissl said 2023 DW was now expected to miss Earth by some 4.3 million kilometers.
Even if such an asteroid was determined to be heading our way, Earth is no longer defenseless.
Last year, NASA’s DART spacecraft deliberately slammed into the pyramid-sized asteroid Dimorphos, significantly knocking it off course in the first such test of our planetary defenses.

Firefighters rescue 5 mischievous boys lost in New York City sewer

Firefighters rescue 5 mischievous boys lost in New York City sewer
Updated 24 March 2023

Firefighters rescue 5 mischievous boys lost in New York City sewer

Firefighters rescue 5 mischievous boys lost in New York City sewer
  • Scream as loud as you can for rescuers to hear you, 911 dispatcher the panicked lads

NEW YORK: Five mischievous boys had to be rescued after they crawled through a storm drain tunnel in New York City and got lost, authorities said.
In audio released by the fire department, 911 dispatchers work to pinpoint the boys’ exact location and then tell them to scream once rescuers are close enough to hear.
“Now you can scream as loud as you can,” a dispatcher says. “They want you to scream and yell.”
The five boys, aged 11 and 12, crawled into a storm drain on Staten Island at about 6 p.m. Tuesday, fire department officials said at a news conference Wednesday.
The boys walked about a quarter mile and then called 911 when they couldn’t find their way back, officials said.
“We’re stuck in the sewer,” one of the boys says on the recording. “You’re stuck where?” a dispatcher responds.
A second dispatcher says he is familiar with the area and tries to determine exactly where the boys are. “Once you went down, was the sewer left, right, straight — where was it?” the dispatcher asks. “I need you to guide me.”
When sirens can be heard, the dispatcher tells the boys to scream. At first the boys fear that the rescuers aren’t stopping.
“It sounded like they went past us,” one boy says.
The dispatcher assures the boys, “They’re not going anywhere, we’re going to get you out of there.”
Soon an emergency responder can be heard saying “We might have hands on the kids right now,” and then, “We have all five children removed from the sewer.”
Firefighters said the boys were in the tunnel for about an hour. The boys and one firefighter were taken to a hospital for evaluation, but none had significant injuries, officials said.
“Amazing that the cellphone worked in the tunnel,” FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens told reporters. “That was a key component of us finding them.”