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Saudi Arabia defends app allowing men to monitor women relatives

Saudi Arabia on Saturday defended a mobile app that allows men in the kingdom to track female relatives after rights groups and a US lawmaker criticised tech giants for offering it.

The Absher app provides services for “all members of the society… including women, the elderly, and people with special needs”, the interior ministry said.

The free app is available on Android and Apple smartphones and allows users to renew passports, visas and eases a variety of other electronic services.

But critics have said the app enables abuse against women and girls by allowing men to track their movements.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told US National Public Radio earlier this week he had not heard of the app, but would “take a look at it”.

US Senator Ron Wyden has called on both Apple and Google to remove the app, arguing on Twitter that it promotes “abusive practises against women”.

Under Saudi law, women must have consent from a husband or immediate male relative to renew passports or leave the country.

The ministry criticised what it called a “systematic campaign aimed at questioning the purpose of the services”.

It rejected what it described as “attempts to politicise” the tool.

This comes as Saudi Arabia faces intense scrutiny over the shocking murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, which has renewed criticism of the kingdom’s rights record.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has garnered international attention with his rapid rise to power and promise of social and economic reforms.

But the kingdom has detained a number of human rights and women campaigners, some of them accused of undermining national security, with scant public information about their whereabouts or the legal status of their cases.

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Liverpool favourites against inconsistent Bayern Munich, says defender Kimmich

Liverpool’s Premier League form and sturdy defence make them favourites in their Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, according to the German club’s defender Joshua Kimmich.

Liverpool are tied for the lead with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League and have conceded the least number of goals, losing only once in 26 games. They have also been unbeaten at home in the league and Champions League this season.

“Liverpool are the favourites,” Kimmich told reporters ahead of the first leg in Anfield. “They’ve lost one league game all season and have let in only 15 goals.

“When you see their style of playing, they have a really good defence and their offensive line is also amazing.

“They have a lot of speed, they have players who are tough in the duels. It won’t be easy to fight against them.”

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Bayern have not reached a final since they last won the Champions League in 2013 against Borussia Dortmund, who were then managed by Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp, and Kimmich believes they cannot be considered among Europe’s elite on current form.

“When you look at us, we are not as consistent as before,” Kimmich added. “We need to improve our style of playing before we can compare to the best teams in Europe.”

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The consequences of an irresponsible Brexit deal

Over the past four weeks I have been in London witnessing the spectacle of the two main political parties tearing themselves apart as members of Parliament (MPs) disagree on Britain’s exit from Europe.

I arrived in London on the evening the Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May was humiliated when many of her own MPs voted down her plan for the exit. The next day she recovered her authority when her party rallied behind her to defeat a no-confidence motion, but that was a brief demonstration of unity, which fell apart once the threat of an election was averted.

Thereafter May demonstrated that sturdy refusal to budge she has become famous for. She wasn’t going to postpone Britain’s exit. She wasn’t going to agree to a second referendum. She wasn’t going to rule out exiting without an agreement. European leaders were equally stubborn saying there was no room for reopening negotiations on the exit now that the deal was rejected.

Then last week, the president of the European Union, Donald Tusk, put his oar into the muddy waters of Brexit. Making the waters even muddier he said: “There should be special places in hell for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely.”

That provoked outrage with Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, describing the remarks as “pretty unacceptable and pretty disgraceful” and demanding an apology.

Outrageous though, the European Union president’s remark may have been undiplomatic, they appear to be his way of saying he regards Britain as being in a mess created by its politicians. At the same time he seems to be saying that Europe is not going to help May pull Britain out of that mess. He clearly sees the heart of the problem as being the irresponsibility of the Brexit campaign.

The Conservative Brexiteers’ demand for a referendum on leaving the European Union was irresponsible from the start because they never planned for the consequences in case of a victory. Their campaign during the referendum was marked by demagogy, slogans like “make Britain great again”, lies like the claim that Turkey would soon be joining the European Union, the false promise of independent trade deals, and dismissing the very real threat to British business and industries leaving the European Union would pose.

The demagogy has continued in the uncertainty which has followed the Brexiteer’s victory in the referendum. Now a new irresponsible threat has been added. It is the threat of dire political consequences if the Brexiteers demand for a total break with Europe is not met, or if as they put it, “the voice of the people is ignored.” If the 28% who didn’t vote in the referendum are taken into account, nowhere near half the population voted leave.

The reason May’s plan failed was her effort to avoid any possibility of a hard border between Northern Ireland, a part of Britain, and the Republic of Ireland.

A soft border which allowed for the free movement of people and goods was an essential feature of the agreement that ended 30 years of terrorist violence by Protestant paramilitary organisations wanting Northern Ireland to remain in Britain and Roman Catholic paramilitaries wanting Ireland to be united.

The exit from Europe the Brexiteers want would mean the imposition of a hard border again because Northern Ireland and the Republic would no longer be in the same customs union. With a hard border the revival of Catholic terrorism is more than likely. For my money just the possibility of that justifies Tusk’s criticism of the Brexiteers for their irresponsibility.

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India vs Australia: Hayden, Sehwag indulge in banter ahead of series – Watch

India’s T20I squad: Virat Kohli(Capt), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Sidharth Kaul, Mayank Markande In the lead up to Australia’s tour of India during which the two sides will play five ODIs and two T20Is, legendary cricketers and former rivals Virendra Sehwag and Matthew Hayden have indulged in a bit of a friendly banter in commercials for the tour broadcaster Star Sports.

In the first commercial Shewag is seen babysitting a bunch of children dressed in the Australian cricket livery.

The advertisement alludes to the on-field banter between Indian wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant and the Australian captain Tim Paine during the recently concluded India’s tour of Australia. To unsettle Pant when he was batting, Paine quipped if Pant would babysit his children while he went out with his wife.


To Sehwag’s tweet, Hayden responded: “#BeWarned Never take Aussie’s for a joke Viru Boy @virendersehwag @StarSportsIndia Just remember who’s baby sitting the #WorldCup trophy.”

The Australian are the reigning world champions having won the 2015 World Cup at home. Hayden, one of the greatest Test batsmen of all time and who took his game another notch when facing India, on Saturday posted the second installment of the commercial, with the caption: “The Aussies are up for the #babysitting challenge from Feb 24 on Star Sports.”

The touring Australians will play the first of their two T20Is on 24th February in Visakhapatnam before moving to Bengaluru’s Chinnaswamy Stadium for the second match.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the squad for the Australian series on Friday.

India’s T20I squad: Virat Kohli(Capt), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Sidharth Kaul, Mayank Markande


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Captain Marvel post-credits scene will feature cameo by this Avenger, says theory

A new theory suggests that Captain Marvel’s post-credits scene will feature a cameo appearance by Doctor Strange, directly setting up Avengers: Endgame. The films will conclude the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three in back-to-back months.

The theory, posted on Reddit, suggests that Captain Marvel will end with Doctor Strange travelling back in time to alert Carol Danvers and Nick Fury of the Avengers’ plight in the future. He will then return to Titan, and deliver the ‘14 million outcomes’ line to Iron Man.

The theory suggests that Carol Danvers is the key to saving the Avengers in Endgame, and the character is expected to make a big entrance in the hotly anticipated film.

ended with Nick Fury paging Captain Marvel for help, and several theories suggested at the time that Fury had always been aware of the Decimation, and therefore assembled the Avengers.
Doctor Strange previously appeared in a cameo in Thor: Ragnarok. He is expected to return in an as-yet-unannounced solo sequel, to be directed by the first film’s Scott Derrickson.

actor Tom Holland in an old interview had seemingly let slip that Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Strange, had to spout a lot of Quantum Realm dialogue in the film. But since he had no such lines in Infinity War, and since both Infinity War and Endgame were shot back-to-back, this led fans to believe that Strange will venture into the Quantum Realm in the upcoming film.

Brie Larson plays Captain Marvel, and will make her MCU debut in March. Endgame has been scheduled for an April release.

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Big Bash League 2019 final, Melbourne Renegades vs Melbourne Stars, Highlights: As It Happened

Highlights: Melbourne Renegades beat Melbourne Stars by 13 runs to win the Big Bash League 2019 title. This is their maiden Big Bash title. ((Full scorecard and commentary))

Melbourne Renegades: Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch (captain), Sam Harper (wicket-keeper), Cameron White, Mackenzie Harvey, Tom Cooper, Daniel Christian, Cameron Boyce, Kane Richardson, Chris Tremain, Harry Gurney

Melbourne Stars: Marcus Stoinis, Ben Dunk, Peter Handscomb (wicket-keeper), Glenn Maxwell (captain), Nic Maddinson, Dwayne Bravo, Seb Gotch, Jackson Bird, Adam Zampa, Daniel Worrall, Sandeep Lamichhane

Follow scorecard of the match here –