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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Former king Michael funeral ceremony in Bucharest, Romania Saturday Dec 16,2017

Thousands of Romanians lined the streets of Bucharest on Saturday Dec 16,2017  for the funeral of the countrys former king Michael, one of the last surviving World War Two European heads of state.

Born in 1921, Michael ruled  Romania twice, switched its alliance away from Nazi Germany to the Allied side during the war and was subsequently forced into exile by a Communist takeover in 1947

He died in Switzerland on Dec 05,2017 at the age of 96, having retired from public life due to severe illness in 2016.

On Saturday Dec 16,2017, Bucharest churches rang their bells and mourners, many in tears, threw white flowers at the funeral procession, chanting “King Michael” and “Down with communism”.

European royalty attended, including Spain’s former king, Juan Carlos, Britains Prince Charles, King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and his wife Queen Silvia.

Even though the restoration of the monarchy is not an issue in the European Union state, Michael commanded great respect from Romanians who saw him in sharp opposition to a political class which they link with poverty and corruption.

His death comes at a time of deep divisions in Romanian society. Massive street protests against attempts by the ruling Social Democrats to weaken the fight against corruption and the rule of law have taken place on and off throughout 2017.

A descendant of the German Hohenzollern dynasty and a cousin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Michael was in his early twenties when he participated in a 1944 coup that overthrew fascist leader Marshal Ion Antonescu.

Romania then broke with Nazi Germany and switched to the Allied side. Historians have said his actions might have shortened the war and saved thousands of lives.

After communism collapsed, politicians fearing Michael’s influence blocked his first few attempted visits after decades of exile in Switzerland, Britain and the United States. He finally returned to Romania in 1992 and regained citizenship in 1997.

With his passing, the Romanian royal familys relevance will likely fade, since his children have little public standing. Princess Margareta, his eldest daughter, remains custodian of the crown.

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) suspends Airtel, Airtel Payments Bank’s eKYC licence

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has temporarily barred Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank from conducting Aadhaar-based SIM verification of mobile customers using eKYC process as well as e-KYC of payments bank clients.

The action follows allegations of Bharti Airtel using the Aadhaar-eKYC based SIM verification process to open payments bank accounts of its subscribers without their ‘informed consent’. UIDAI also took strong objection to allegations that such payments bank accounts are being linked to receive LPG subsidy.

UIDAI, in an interim order, “suspended e-KYC licence key of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Airtel Payment Bank Ltd with immediate effect,” sources with direct knowledge of the development said.

This essentially means Airtel would not be able to, in the interim, carry out ‘electronic-verification’ or link mobile SIMs of its customers with their 12-digit biometric national ID Aadhaar though the efficient and paperless eKYC (or electronic Know Your Customer) process of UIDAI.

Also, Airtel Payments Bank will not be able to open a new account with Aadhaar e-KYC. However, accounts can be opened through alternate methods, if available.

When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have received interim order from the UIDAI regarding temporary suspension of Aadhaar linked e-KYC services till their satisfaction on certain processes relating to Airtel payment banks onboarding of customers.”

“We are engaging with the authority and are hopeful of an early resolution. We are also undertaking to complete the said actions on priority and have commenced thorough checks of our process flows.
“Being compliant to all guidelines is paramount to us. In the interim, any inconvenience to our customers is regretted,” the spokesperson said.

Around the world in 42 days: Frenchman Francois Gabart smashes solo sailing record

Frenchman Francois Gabart smashed the world record for the fastest non-stop solo navigation of the globe on Sunday, completing the mammoth feat in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds.

The 34-year-old sailor crossed a virtual finish line drawn between the island of Ushant off France's northwest tip and Lizard Point in southwest England at 0145 GMT, comfortably beating the previous record set by compatriot Thomas Coville last year by six days and 10 hours.

The race time was announced by an observer from the World Sailing Speed Council but will be subject to checks of the boat's black box and its GPS data before final confirmation.

Father-of-two Gabart becomes just the fourth title-holder for a world record of sailing the globe solo without stopping.

Since the record was first set in 2004, nearly 30 days have been shaved off.

The debut record holder was Frenchman Francis Joyon who completed the odyssey in 72 days and 22 hours.

British female sailor Ellen MacArthur took to the seas a year later, racing against the clock to break that record by just a day and a half (71 days, 14 hours).

She remained undefeated until 2016 when Coville set a new record of 49 days and three hours which many predicted would be difficult to topple.

Gabart's 30 metre (98 foot) long new generation maxi-trimaran was helped by good weather throughout much of the voyage, particularly during the long and arduous Pacific section.

He set a number of new solo race records along the way, including the fastest navigation of the Pacific (7 days, 15 hours, 15 minutes) and the longest distance covered in 24 hours (851 miles or 1,576 kilometres)

Sri Lanka's Upul Tharanga Completes 1000+ Runs in ODI in the Calendar Year 2017 Sunday Dec 17,2017

Image result for Sri Lanka's Upul Tharanga
Upul Tharanga missed out on his 16th century in the third and final ODI at the ACA-VDCA stadium on Sunday Dec 17,2017 as he was brilliantly stumped by MS Dhoni off Kuldeep Yadav for 95 off 82 balls. However, in the course of his knock, Tharanga went past 1000 runs in ODIs in 2017

Upul Tharanga became the third player to go past 1000 runs in ODIs in 2017 after Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma and in the process, also became the first Sri Lanka batsman since Tillakaratne Dilshan in 2015 to go past the landmark

2017 Dubai Super Series Final - P V Sindhu loses to Japan's Akane Yamaguchi Sunday Dec 17,2017

P V Sindhu won silver at the Dubai Super Series Finals after losing a titanic contest against Japan's top seed Akane Yamaguchi 21-15, 12-21, 19-21 Sunday Dec 17,2017

P V  Sindhu, who beat Chen Yufei in the semi-final on Saturday, is only the second Indian to make a finals appearance at the tournament

Saina Nehwal was the first, but she failed to conquer the finals of the 2011 edition losing to China's Wang Yihan.

North Korea Marks 6th Anniversary of Kim Jong Il's Death Sunday Dec 17,2017

Crowds of flower-bearing North Koreans on Sunday Dec 17,2017 streamed passed statues and portraits of their leaders to pay respects on the sixth anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il.

With somber, recorded music playing in the sub-zero air, thousands upon thousands of people marched up Pyongyang's Mansu Hill to bow and place flowers at the feet of two giant bronze statues of Kim Jong Il and national founder Kim Il Sung, who is North Korea's "eternal president" and Kim Jong Un's grandfather.

Kim Jong Il died on Dec. 17, 2011.

Although the sense of national mourning is less intense than in previous years, North Koreans are expected to avoid drinking, entertainment and inappropriate displays of enjoyment on the day before and the day of the anniversary.

2017-18 Premier League - Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-1,its 16th successive win Saturday Dec 16,2017

Manchester City soared above the fog swirling round the Etihad Stadium to demolish Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 and leave the rest of the Premier League peering into the distance in search of Pep Guardiola's record-breaking team on Saturday Dec 16,2017

Tottenham, who began the day fourth, were supposed to provide a proper test but, just like City's previous 15 opponents, were outclassed as goals by Ilkay Gundogan before halftime and Kevin de Bruyne and two from Raheem Sterling after it put City 14 points clear.

City's 16th successive win took them to 52 points, one game short of the halfway point of the season. Manchester United, who play at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, have 38 as do champions Chelsea who beat Southampton 1-0 on Saturday thanks to Marcos Alonso's free kick.

Arsenal sent Newcastle United into the drop zone with a 1-0 win that lifted the Gunners to fourth with 33 points while Burnley are fifth, a further point back, after a 0-0 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion for whom Glenn Murray missed a penalty. Tottenham tumbled down to seventh behind Liverpool, who are at Bournemouth on Sunday, on goal difference.

There were two big movers at the bottom with Crystal Palace winning 3-0 at Leicester City and West Ham United doing the same at Stoke City to move out of the relegation zone into 14th and 15th places respectively. Stoke are 17th. Even without the absent David Silva, City were too clinical for Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham side and could even afford a second-half penalty miss from Gabriel Jesus.

"It was solid, good, against one team demanding to be intense without the ball," Guardiola said. "Since August we are so happy and I admire the most the way we play without the ball -- thank you to the club to provide me with these amazing players."

City's attacking football is a thing to behold but there was nothing fancy about their 14th minute opener as Gundogan was left unmarked to head in from a corner -- a goal Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino described as an early Christmas present.

To their credit Tottenham took the game to City in the second half but were cut open in the 70th minute as De Bruyne finished off a rapid counter-attack. Sterling's double in the final 10 minutes took his tally for the season to 15 in all competitions before Christian Eriksen scored a late consolation for the visitors.

"Today yes, they showed better quality than us. The better team won," Pochettino said.

Chelsea have won eight of their last 10 games, but like Arsenal who beat Newcastle with a Mesut Ozil goal, are realistically playing for a top-four position unless City suffer a new year collapse of dramatic proportions.

"In the last 10 games we won eight games," Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said. "Some people are forgetting this run because there is a team that is winning every game." At the bottom Christian Benteke went from zero to hero as he scored his first goal of the season, and Crystal Palace's first on the road, as they trounced Leicester with Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako also on target.

Belgian striker Benteke made amends after disobeying team orders to take, and miss, a crucial penalty last week in a 2-2 draw with Bournemouth.

"The day after (the penalty miss) he came in and held his hand up, he spoke to the players and myself and made the point that he would make it up to team, and that is what he has done," Palace manager Roy Hodgson said.

Marko Arnautovic scored against his old club Stoke as West Ham made it seven points from three games without conceding. Huddersfield Town ended a long scoring drought on the road as they thumped stumbling Watford 4-1. Huddersfield's Jonathan Hogg was dismissed in the second half for asecond booking while Troy Deeney saw red for Watford in the first half