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  • Ultimate Universe playing cards fuse pixel art with Japanese mythology


    SHAFAQNA - Sure, they’re the same playing cards you use for Poker in smoky back rooms (i.e. your kitchen) or for a rousing game of Hearts with the kids, but even in those venues — perhaps especially in those venues — art and design matter.

    Gambler’s Warehouse has just concluded a Kickstarter campaign (its ninth for specialty cards) in support of the Ultimate Universe deck — and it promises to be stunning. It is described thusly:

    “A conceptual expansion on the four symbols of Oriental mythology, Ultimate Universe takes star-born legends to new heights. Elements of 2D pixel art infused with striking color schemes make for a visual experience that is both complex and fun. Mythology and technology coalesce beautifully in Ultimate Universe.”


    Printed on Bicycle card stock with its patented air-cushion finish, the decks come in either full color or grayscale designs. Each card features original art with custom designs for all court cards, numbered cards, backs and tuck boxes. The grayscale design has a touch of red on the red suits.

    The pack consists of 56 unique custom cards printed by  USPCC , which prints the Bicycle brand, among others.

    cards Ultimate Universe playing cards fuse pixel art with Japanese mythology

    BBC.com/ Alastair Cook: Nasser Hussain says England should drop captain


    SHAFAQNA - There is still time for England to replace Alastair Cook as captain before the World Cup, says former skipper Nasser Hussain.

    England's  one-day series defeat in Sri Lanka was their fourth in a row under Cook, who scored 119 runs in six games.

    They have a maximum of five ODIs before their opening World Cup game against Australia on 14 February.

    "It would not be too much of a gamble. It should have happened months ago,"  Hussain wrote in the Daily Mail.

    "More dynamic players should have been given time to bed into the side."

    Left-handed opener ...

    Motorsports – Bernie Ecclestone takes swipe at Germans with Christmas card


    SHAFAQNA -  This is not a robbery. I am collecting for the Bavarian state," says the cartoon figure on horseback as Ecclestone holds the sack of money.

    In a further greeting inside the card sent to Reuters, Ecclestone added another tongue-in-cheek comment to further stoke the fires.

    "Maybe now we can have a Formula One race in the really nice city of Munich, Germany."


    Ecclestone card tweet

    Ecclestone paid $100 million (£64m) in August under the terms of a settlement agreement with prosecutors to end the bribery trial in Munich.

    The agreement meant Ecclestone, now 84, preserved his innocence and was spared the prospect of a lengthy trial.

    He had one week to pay the money -- $99 million to the state and $1 million to a children's charity -- and did so.

    Ecclestone had been accused of channelling cash to jailed BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to smooth the sale of a major stake in Formula One to private equity fund CVC, now the largest shareholder in the business.

    Source : Reuters.com

    World Cup – FIFA to vote on publishing Garcia report in full


    SHAFAQNA -  The meeting, at a luxury Marrakech hotel where even the grounds were off limits to the public, began the day after Garcia quit in protest at the handling of his investigation into the process which led to the 2018 World Cup being awarded to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar in December 2010.

    Sources close to the FIFA leadership suggested the vote could be closer than expected and that more committee members might be moved to vote in favour of the release of a redacted version of Garcia's report as public pressure on them grows.

    The meeting will be addressed by Domenico Scala, head of FIFA's audit and compliance committee and one of six people to have seen Garcia's report.

    FIFA Exco members who have publicly called for the report to be published in full include Jim Boyce, Jeffrey Webb, Moya Doidd, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan and UEFA prsident Michel Platini.

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter could play a crucial role in swaying some of the undecided members on the 27-man committee to vote one way or another, sources at world soccer's governing body said.

    Bahrain: Mercenaries police backed with Saudi troops demolish Shia mosques rebuilt by people


    SHAFAQNA ( Exclusive ) - The Bahraini authorities with mercenaries Police backed with Saudi troops  (Thursday, December 18 / 2014) demolished a Shia mosque in the west of the capital Manama in Mqaabh area, at a time where people waiting for more than 10 mosques to rebuilt. This comes at a time when members committee of religious freedom in the United States are visiting currently Bahrain to see progress of the rebuilding of mosques that were demolished in 2011.

    It was learned that delegation were visiting together with the US Embassy members in tours on mosques and places of worship that have been demolished, with a focus on those that are not subject to rebuild an integrated manner. People rebuild Watiyah mosque that was demolished by authorities  in April 2011 within a broad campaign to punish the Shia community, which led mass protests sought to put an end to the Al Khalifa family's acquisition of power.

    Saudi security forces beat women .. and then destroyed their home


    SHAFAQNA ( Exclusive ) - Saudi security men assaulted by beating on a group of women from one family.Security police have forced women to evacuate two adjacent houses , they were living in Alosagh village (250 north of Jeddah) and then they demolished they two houses using bulldozers on 16 December.

    Security forces claimed that women built the two houses on the land is not owned by them. It was interesting this time the use of violence to women is clear from the images that are widely published on the networking sites. one old age women was withdrawn by force with others in front of the houses, who were trying to protect them from the bulldozers. Its known the coastal area, which stretches north from Jeddah to Jizan in the south over a length of 700 kilometers widespread poverty among the population and the neglect of the Saudi government to them.

    Saudi Arabia people are suffering because of the extensive corruption in the members of the royal family , who number about ten thousand people, and official figures say that about 80 percent of the citizens do not have housing, and living in apartments or rented houses.

    U.S. jobless claims point to firmer labor market


    SHAFAQNA - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting the labor market continued to strengthen. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000 for the week ended Dec. 13, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

    The report came a day after the Federal Reserve offered an upbeat assessment of the labor market and the broader economy, and signaled it could start raising interest rates next year.

    The U.S. central bank, which has kept its short-term interest rate near zero since December 2008, lowered its unemployment rate forecast on Wednesday. Many economists expect the first rate hike in mid-2015.

    Yields on U.S. Treasuries held at higher levels after the claims data, while U.S. stock index futures were trading higher. The dollar was slightly stronger against a basket of currencies.

    Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims edging up to 295,000 last week. The prior week's data was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

    The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, slipped by 750 to 298,750.

    Last week's data covered the period during which the government surveyed employers for December's nonfarm payrolls.

    The four-week average of claims rose by 11,000 between the November and December survey periods, suggesting a step back in job growth after payrolls surged by 321,000 last month. The December payrolls are still expected to come in above 200,000.

    Job gains have exceeded 200,000 for 10 straight months, the longest such stretch since 1994.

    A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data.

    The report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell by 147,000 to 2.37 million in ...

    Gulf stocks rebound strongly as oil price steadies


    SHAFAQNA - Gulf stock markets rebounded strongly on Thursday as world oil prices steadied after plumbing multi-year lows, calming investor jitters. The rebound in oil prices and a number of political statements fuelled what was a spectacular comeback in most Gulf markets.

    Dubai Financial Market Index -- which had been the region's biggest loser -- surged 13.0 percent, the biggest one-day rise ever, to close at 3,426.70 points.

    All shares advanced, with many rising the maximum allowed 15 percent. Market leader Emaar Properties added 14.9 percent, while construction giant Arabtec and Emaar Malls both increased by 15 percent.

    Dubai had shed a massive 32.6 percent since November 27, when the OPEC oil cartel decided to maintain output levels, intensifying the price slide.

    However, the market still ended the week 4.7 lower.

    On the Saudi bourse, the Arab world's largest, the Tadawul All-Shares Index surged 8.9 percent to pass the 8,000-point psychological barrier and close at 8,320.55. While it ended higher for the second day in a row, it closed the week down 0.9 percent.

    All 15 sectors increased, with the leading petrochemicals index surging 9.7 percent. Market leader chemicals giant SABIC rose 9.8 percent.

    Market sentiment was further boosted by the Saudi government's decision to tap into its huge fiscal reserves to maintain high spending, despite the fall in revenues resulting from the low oil price.

    Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange was up 6.7 percent at 4,365.19 points on the back of solid performance by all sectors, especially real estate and banks. It ended the week down 3.1 percent.

    Muscat Securities Exchange rose 3.7 percent to 5,684.68 points, while Kuwait Stock Exchange added 1.9 percent to reach 6,230.09 points

    The tiny Bahrain bourse gained 0.6 percent. Qatar Exchange, the Gulf's second largest, was closed for a national holiday.

    Investor sentiment improved after oil prices rallied ...

    Obesity can be deemed a disability at work – EU court


    SHAFAQNA - Europe's top court ruled on Thursday that obese people can be considered as disabled, but stopped short of saying that obesity was a condition that needed specific protection under European anti-discrimination laws.

    The landmark decision will be closely read by European employers and means that companies might have to provide greater support to obese staff.

    The case was instigated by a Danish court, which wanted guidance over a complaint of unfair dismissal brought by a child-minder who was sacked by a local authority.

    Karsten Kaltoft, who never weighed less than 160 kilogrammes (352 pounds) during his employment, argued that his obesity was one of the reasons he lost his job and that this amounted to unlawful discrimination -- an allegation the council denied.

    The Court of Justice of the European Union (EJC) ruled that EU employment law did not specifically prohibit discrimination on the grounds of obesity, and said the law should not be extended to make it a protected category.

    However, the Luxembourg-based court said that if an employee's obesity hindered "full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers" then it could be considered a disability. This, in turn, is covered by anti-discrimination legislation.

    Classifying obesity as a protected characteristic -- such as sex, race or age -- would have required employers to take measures to ensure obese workers could perform their duties on an equal footing with others.

    "It would have opened a can of worms," said Crowley Woodford, employment partner at law firm Ashurst.

    However, Friday's nuanced ruling still leaves companies open to potential discrimination suits.

    "If you consider the obese disabled, all of a sudden it triggers certain protections for employees," said Jacob Sand, a partner at Danish law firm Gorrissen Federspiel which represented Kaltoft.

    Considering obesity a disability also reverses ...

    Revolutionary Clot-Removing Devices Are Better than Standard Drugs


    SHAFAQNA - A new study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that stroke patients who had their clots removed from the arteries by medical devices had an increased chance of recovery than patients given clot-dissolving medication. The study was conducted on 500 stroke patients.

    Jeffrey Saver, MD, who wasn’t involved in the study, said that although clot-removing devices had been around for some time, it was the first time doctors had a clinical trial that proved them more effective in making stroke patients better than standard drug treatment.

    After three months since the stroke occurred, 32.6 percent of the patients who had their clots removed by surgical means achieved functional independence, while only 19.1 percent of the stroke patients who had used clot-bursting drugs were fully recovered.

    The study surveyed patients that had their stroke located in the large front arteries of the brain – this type of blockage is the most common among stroke patients.

    We’re talking about the sickest stroke patients, the ones with blockages of their main arteries leading to the brain, and these patients account for the majority of disability and death related to stroke,”

    said Albert J. Yoo, author of the study and stroke expert at the Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

    Researchers say that their findings should encourage people in getting their peers showing stroke symptoms directly to the hospital and not rely only on medication. The most common stroke warning signs are face dropping or uneven smile, slurred speech and arm weakness.

    Stroke is now an even more treatable disease today than it was yesterday. But we can only use them if patients get to the hospital in time,”

    said Dr Saver.

    The authors of the study say that 90 percent of their study participants received tPa, a clot-dissolving injection,  at the hospital, but ...