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first_imgFormer world number one Maria Sharapova made a winning comeback to the tour on Wednesday following her 15-month doping ban, beating Italian Roberta Vinci in straight sets in the first round of the Stuttgart Grand Prix.The 30-year-old Russian, a three-time winner on Stuttgart’s clay courts, received a controversial wild card for the German tournament, having had no ranking points after more than a year out following her suspension.She had a nervous start in front of a supportive crowd but quickly found her strokes and her trademark shrieks to power past the world number 36 7-5 6-3 and set up a second-round clash against fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova.”It’s the best feeling in the world. To know I would be walking back into the arena was very special,” Sharapova said in a courtside interview. “I was waiting for this moment for a long time.”She added: “When I am on the court, because I have been doing it for so long, even though you are rusty and trying to get a rhythm, you try to block everything out. I am a competitor by nature. That’s when I am at my best.”Sharapova has also received invitations to play in Madrid and Rome and will find out in May whether she will be given a wild card for the French Open.Some players, including Vinci, have criticised the wild card awards, saying a doping offender should have to start from scratch and build up their ranking by playing in the lower tournaments again.advertisement”I am not an individual that’s angry or bitter. I let things go,” she told a post-match news conference. “I am being offered wild cards from tournament directors. I am not getting a wild card to receive a trophy or a gold platter.”I still have to go through matches and win them.”REDUCED BANSharapova’s initial two-year suspension was reduced to 15 months after she tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open for meldonium, a medication the Russian had been taking within the rules but which was then reclassified as a banned drug.”It’s important to play, points, games, sets. It is a journey that officially starts today and I look forward to playing as many matches as I can,” said Sharapova, the second highest paid female athlete last year according to Forbes.”I spent a long time without hitting any balls. I didn’t know when I would be back. I went to school for a little bit, I grew my business and had a normal life. I put the racquet away for a little bit.”I felt I had to grow as a person and I felt I had to step up and do it.”Sharapova was clearly nervous at the start, firing three forehands long in the first game, double-faulting on her first service game point and being broken by the Italian who took a quick 2-0 lead.It took 15 minutes for Sharapova to win her first game but she gradually improved her service, started attacking Vinci’s and clinched the first set after an hour.Sharapova, growing in confidence with every point despite a dozen unforced errors in the first set, broke the Italian early in the second, and her 11th ace put her 5-3 ahead.She broke the 34-year-old again to secure the win on her first match point.last_img read more

first_imgIs climate change a religious issue? A group of Alaskans says yes. They joined together this weekend in Anchorage for an interfaith Earth Care Jamboree.Download AudioDownload Audio.Thick fog enveloped the mountains as about 75 people from Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley attended workshops and panels on climate and faith.“Any person who has a devotion to God in any form should think of the Earth as a creation that needs to be protected, needs to be cared for in a proper way,” said panelist Orthodox Bishop David Mahaffey. “So as a human being who knows and loves a creator God, I feel it’s my role to be involved in these things.”The Bishop said he incorporates protection of the environment in his daily life and sacraments. For him and many of the other speakers at the conference, faith and environmental protection are not just linked; they are inextricably tied together.And for some leaders, like Dr. Genmyo Zeedyk of the Anchorage Zen Community, that means speaking up about climate change.An interfaith panel on climate change spoke Saturday at Alpenglow Lodge in Arctic Valley. (Hillman/KSKA)“It seems that as faith leaders, arguably, one of our most fundamental activities is to help people in our various faith communities touch the Great Spirit – whatever word you want to call that – and then live that out in daily life,” she said during a panel discussion. “And to live it out in daily life means to care.”A 2014 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that the more people hear about climate change from their religious leaders, the more likely they are to believe in it.But Presbyterian Reverend Dr. Curt Karns said that doesn’t mean climate change is an easy conversation to have with congregations in oil-dependent Alaska.“In our churches, where we all want to be nice to each other, we often try to dance around important topics. But you need then the prophets who say you’ve got to take a look at this. What we’ve found is that it’s hard to get a congregation up and moving. But there are few folks who get the vision so we try to connect them across congregations.”The 2014 survey shows that Hispanic Catholics in the United States are the most likely religious group to be concerned about climate change. White Evangelical Protestants are the least likely. The nation as a whole is split 50-50.Jamboree attendee Cyrus Hicks says the division among Christians may be because of different interpretations of scripture.“I think there’s a huge emphasis on personal salvation and how temporary this life is. A lot of times you hear we are supposed to be ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ it. And there are scriptures that say not to love the ways of the world. But then you have other scriptures that say God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.”But for Bishop David, ultimately that doesn’t matter. “All of us have an obligation to care for the environment. It doesn’t matter what your faith is or your background is. We were put here as the caretakers, the stewards of this. We will answer for what we do or don’t do for the environment.”The event was hosted by the InterFaith Earth Care Action Network.last_img read more

first_imgThe government said that it has released a sum of Rs 237.07 crore in the last four years to 12 states under the Green India Mission for afforestation in an area of 87113.86 hectares. Creative CommonsThe Modi government gave green signal to fell at least 1.09 crore trees during 2014-2019 for various development-related works, said Babul Supriyo, the union environment minister of state, in the Lok Sabha on July 26.Supriyo, while responding to a query, said that the highest number of trees (26.9 lakh)  were uprooted in 2018-19. He added that the data doesn’t include the number of trees that were destroyed in various forest fires.”Trees are felled for various development purposes with the permission of competent authorities in accordance with the procedure laid down in various Acts. However, the Ministry does not maintain data regarding the cutting of trees due to forest fire,” said Supriyo. Between 2014-2015, 23.3 lakh trees were permitted to be uprooted, 16.9 lakh in 2015-2016, 17.01 lakh in 2016-17 and 25.5 lakh in 2017-18 were uprooted, according to the environment ministry data.The government said that it has released a sum of Rs 237.07 crore in the last four years to 12 states under the Green India Mission for afforestation in an area of 87113.86 hectares and providing alternative energy devices to 56,319 households. (Representational Image)ReutersUnder the National Afforestation Programme, however, the Modi government sanctioned an amount of Rs Rs 328.90 to treat new area of 94,828 hectares during the last four years (2015-16 to 2018-19).last_img read more

first_imgHandout picture released by the Archeological Zone of Caral on 16 August 2018 showing high relief decorations on a recently unearthed wall at the archaeological site of Vichama, on the Huaura Valley, on the coast of the Peru, 140 km north of Lima. Photo: AFPA set of Roman-era tombs dating back some 2,000 years have been discovered near the Palestinian city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank during road works, an official said Thursday.The cemetery dating to the first century AD, when the region was under Roman rule, was found in the village of Idna in the southern West Bank around two weeks ago.It was discovered during road work in mountainous terrain in the area, said Taleb Jubran, director of the department of tourism and antiquities in Hebron.Bones, pottery and some 32 tombs set into stone were found. It was clear to archaeologists that artifacts had been stolen from the site before it was officially discovered, said Jubran.”This discovery is very important for us to study it and to preserve it,” Jubran said.The tombs were set out over a space of some 50 metres.Officials also hoped to turn the site into a tourist attraction, while further study of it would continue to turn up details of what was found and its importance, he said.A large number of remains from the Roman era can be found and visited in Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as the region as a whole.last_img read more

first_imgCanning (WB): One person was killed and two others received bullet injuries after a clash broke out between two groups in South 24 Parganas district on Sunday, police said. The incident happened at Canning bus stand under the jurisdiction of Canning police station. Trouble began after the two groups, belonging to the same party, clashed at a rally organised by its youth wing, a police officer said. Shots were fired during the clash and 18-year-old Mizanur Rehman Sardar was killed on the spot, the officer said, adding, two other persons also suffered bullet injuries. They have been admitted to Canning sub-divisional hospital, he said.last_img read more

first_imgKolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met with poll whiz Prashant Kishor at Nabanna on Thursday afternoon, whose latest success is ‘Project Jagan Mohan Reddy’ in Andhra Pradesh.After a reported two-hour meeting in Kolkata, Kishor signed up as the party’s poll strategist for the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in 2021. Kishor will kick off his assignment very soon and his primary job, as per party sources, will be to prepare a plan to counter the BJP which had bagged as many as 18 seats in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections with the ruling TMC winning 22 seats. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP could manage only two seats in the state while the TMC had won 34. In terms of 294 Assembly seats, the saffron party could manage lead in as many as 121 Assembly segments against the TMC’s 164. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataSources in Nabanna informed that Kishor was taken to the Chief Minister’s chamber at Nabanna by Abhishek Banerjee who is the president of All India Trinamool Youth Congress. According to party sources, the two deliberated over the causes of TMC’s performance in the parliamentary polls and Kishor explained his readings seat by seat for Bengal. It may be mentioned that TMC had sought the assistance of Kishor even in 2016 but the deal did not materialise due to the latter’s reluctance. Kishor had then just bagged the Congress contract for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections at that time. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateKishor is credited with successfully organising the political campaigns for Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh. The YSR Congress won 22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats and 151 out of 175 Assembly seats. The incumbent Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s party was voted out of power in the parliamentary polls. It is learnt that after the convincing victory of Reddy, few more political parties in the state have been approaching Kishor for being their poll strategist. Kishor is credited with handling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll campaign in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He joined Nitish Kumar and strategised the election campaign for his party during the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections. His venture to revive the Congress in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, however, was a flop. Kishor had joined politics last year as the vice-president of Bihar’s Janata Dal-United.last_img read more