India Bans Electronic Cigarettes Amid Vaping Concerns

A man exhales smoke from an electronic cigarette in Washington, DC. EVA HAMBACH / AFP

 

India announced on Wednesday a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes, as a backlash gathers pace worldwide due to health concerns about a product promoted as less harmful than smoking tobacco.

The Indian announcement, also outlawing production, import and distribution, came a day after New York became the second US state to ban flavoured e-cigarettes following a string of vaping-linked deaths.

“The decision was made keeping in mind the impact that e-cigarettes have on the youth of today,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters in New Delhi.

E-cigarettes do not “burn” but instead heat up a liquid — tasting of everything from bourbon to bubble gum and which usually contains nicotine — that turns into vapour and is inhaled.

The vapour is missing the estimated 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke but does contain a number of substances that could potentially be harmful.

They have been pushed by producers, and also by some governments including in Britain, as a safer alternative to traditional smoking — and as a way to kick the habit.

However critics say that apart from being harmful in themselves, the flavours of e-cigarette liquids appeal particularly to children and risk getting them addicted to nicotine.

Some 3.6 million middle and high school students in the United States used vaping products in 2018, an increase of 1.5 million on the year before.

The New York emergency legislation followed an outbreak of severe pulmonary disease that has killed seven people and sickened hundreds.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced last week that it would soon ban flavoured e-cigarette products to stem a rising tide of youth users.

 Big E-Tobacco 

Although few Indians vape at present, the Indian ban also cuts off a vast potential market of 1.3 billion consumers for makers of e-cigarettes.

Tobacco firms have been investing heavily in the technology to compensate for falling demand for cigarettes due to high taxes and public smoking bans, particularly in the West.

In 2018 Altria, the US maker of brands such as Marlboro and Chesterfield, splashed out almost $13 billion on a stake in one of the biggest e-cigarette makers, Juul.

A few Indian states have already banned e-cigarettes although the restrictions have been ineffective since online sale of vaping products continue.

The new ban does not cover traditional tobacco products in India.

According to the World Health Organization, India is the world’s second-largest consumer of tobacco products, killing nearly 900,000 people every year.

Nearly 275 million people over 15, or 35 percent of adults, are users, although chewing tobacco — which also causes cancer — is more prevalent than smoking.

India is also the world’s third–largest producer of tobacco, the WHO says, and tobacco farmers are an important vote bank for political parties.

According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, an estimated 45.7 million people depend on the tobacco sector in India for their livelihood.

Tobacco is also a major Indian export, and the government holds substantial stakes, directly or indirectly, in tobacco firms including in ITC, one of India’s biggest companies.

AFP

Messi Given One-Match Ban For Copa America Red Card

 

Argentina star Lionel Messi was hit with a one-game suspension by South American football bosses over his dismissal during the Copa America third-place play-off against Chile earlier this month.

However, CONMEBOL made no mention of Messi’s “corruption” accusation against the regional governing body that he made after receiving his red card.

Messi was harshly dismissed in the first half of Argentina’s 2-1 win over Chile after a clash with defender Gary Medel.

Television images suggested Messi did nothing wrong as Medel appeared to repeatedly try, unsuccessfully, to headbutt the Barcelona forward.

READ ALSO: US Fines Facebook $5bn, Toughens Privacy Oversight

While most observers acknowledged that the Chile captain deserved to be sent off, Paraguayan referee Mario Diaz de Vivar controversially also gave Messi his marching orders.

CONMEBOL’s disciplinary commission hit Messi with “an automatic one-match suspension,” adding late on Tuesday that it could not be appealed by the Argentine Football Association (AFA).

It means the 32-year-old five-time Ballon d’Or winner will miss the first of Argentina’s qualification matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, due to be played in March. He was also fined $1,500.

“Corruption and the referees are preventing people from enjoying the football and they’re ruining it a bit,” Messi said after the Chile match.

Messi had also hit out at the organizers after Argentina’s semi-final elimination against hosts Brazil in their previous match.

“Brazil were the hosts and they’re managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days, which makes it complicated” for everyone else, Messi had said after his side were denied what appeared like two clear penalties in a 2-0 defeat.

The CONMEBOL commission made no mention, however, of Messi’s comments, for which he was expected to face harsher punishment.

The announcement came after CONMEBOL, earlier on Tuesday, sanctioned AFA president Claudio Tapia for his blistering attack on Ecuadoran referee Roddy Zambrano, who had refused to consult VAR over the two Argentine penalty claims in their 2-0 defeat to Brazil.

Tapia had hit out at “serious and gross refereeing mistakes” while questioning whether “the principles of ethics, loyalty and transparency” had been observed during the match.

CONMEBOL stripped Tapia of his role as the regional body’s representative on the FIFA executive committee.

AFP

Sri Lanka Blocks Social Media After Anti-Muslim Riots

 

Sri Lanka blocked Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms on Monday after anti-Muslim riots hit several towns in the latest fallout from the Easter Sunday suicide attacks.

Christian groups attacked Muslim-owned shops in a sign of the continued religious tension in Sri Lanka since the April 21 attacks by jihadist suicide bombers on three hotels and three churches which left 258 dead.

A state of emergency has been in place since the bombings — which the Islamic State group claims to have helped — and security forces have been given sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods.

Police said a mob targetted shops in the north-west town of Chilaw on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper. Security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd, but the violence spread to nearby towns where Muslim businesses were also attacked.

A motorcycle gang attacked shops in nearby Kuliyapitiya and four members were arrested, officials said. However, dozens of people laid siege to the police station and forced their release.

Despite a night curfew, a mosque was vandalised, local residents said.

Police said the curfew in Chilaw and nearby areas was relaxed Monday, but the social media ban was brought in to head off new violence.

 Mosque attack 

“Don’t laugh more, 1 day u will cry,” was posted on Facebook by a Muslim shopkeeper, and local Christians took it to be a warning of an impending attack.

Mobs smashed the man’s shop and vandalised a nearby mosque prompting security forces to fire in the air to disperse the crowd. A curfew was imposed from Sunday afternoon until dawn Monday.

There have already been clashes between Christians and Muslims in Negombo, the town north of Colombo that was one of the targets for the suicide attackers.

The main body of Islamic clerics, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), said there was increased suspicion of Muslims after the Easter attacks carried out by local jihadists.

“We call upon the members of the Muslim communities to be more patient and guard your actions and avoid unnecessary postings or hosting on social media,” the ACJU said.

Internet service providers said they have been instructed by the telecommunications regulator to block access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and other platforms.

The latest unrest came as Catholic churches resumed Sunday masses for the first time since the bombings.

Worshippers were searched before being allowed into churches that were guarded by armed police and troops. There were no reports of disruption to services, however.

Schools reopen 

Dozens of people have been detained since the Easter Sunday attacks, and amid the heightened security, police have banned parking near schools and students are allowed in after checking for explosives.

Public schools completed their reopening from extended Easter holidays after the attacks, but attendance was low, according to education authorities.

Upper classes resumed last week while primary school pupils were asked to start Monday.

Private Catholic schools were to open on Tuesday, but many were planning to postpone the reopening until next week, parent groups said.

Muslims make up around 10 per cent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka’s 21 million population and Christians about 7.6 per cent.

AFP

Nigerian Army Bans Motorcycles In Forest Areas Of Seven States

 

The Nigerian Army has banned the use of motorcycles in the north-western states of the country, due to the increased rate of kidnapping and banditry.

Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, made the announcement in a statement on Sunday.

He said the affected states are Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara and Niger.

While giving the reason for the ban, Musa noted that “armed bandits, criminals and kidnappers hibernate and all around where troops are conducting operations alongside other security agencies.”

READ ALSO: El-Rufai Asks Air Force To End Attacks On Abuja-Kaduna Highway

The Army spokesman warned that “anyone caught using motorcycles within the named areas will be taken for an armed bandit, criminal and kidnapper with dire consequences.”

While appealing for the cooperation of the general public, Musa said the directive will stop the dastardly activities of these bandits from operating across the affected region.

He also reiterated the military’s commitment in securing lives and properties of the citizenry, calling on the “respective State Governments are enjoined to please disseminate the ban on the use of motorcycles in the named areas and enforce the ban in conjunction with the security agencies.”

The development follows ongoing military operations in the affected states codenamed Exercise Harbin Kunama aimed at combating security challenges in the area.

Sri Lanka Bans Face Covering After Attacks

file photo

 

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday announced a ban on face-covering, a week after Islamist militants carried out coordinated suicide bombings that killed 253 people.

Sirisena said he was using emergency powers to ban any form of face covering in public. The restriction will take effect from Monday, his office said in a statement.

“The ban is to ensure national security… No one should obscure their faces to make identification difficult,” the statement said.

READ ALSO: Spain Election: Socialists Win Amid Far-Right Breakthrough

It came days after local Islamic clerics urged Muslim women not to cover their faces amid fears of a backlash after the bombings carried out by jihadists affiliated to the Islamic State group.

Muslims in the majority Buddhist nation account for about 10 per cent of its 21 million population.

Most Sri Lankan Muslims practise a liberal form of the religion and only a small number of women wear the niqab.

AFP

FIFA Bans Eight Players, Agent For Life Over Match-Fixing

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
File

 

FIFA issued eight-lifetime bans to current and former players and an agent on Wednesday after they were found guilty of match manipulation.

Former Sierra Leone captain Ibrahim Kargbo and ex-Trinidad and Tobago defender Keyeno Thomas were among those suspended from all football-related activities over attempts to rig matches at international level.

World football’s governing body also banned former players from Benin, Afghanistan and Cuba, as well as Zimbabwean agent Kudzanai Shaba.

READ ALSO: AFCON U17: Guinea Reach Finals After Beating Nigeria 10-9 On Penalties

Kenyan defender George Owino Audi received a 10-year ban and a fine of 15,000 Swiss francs (13,165 euros).

FIFA said it opened disciplinary proceedings after a vast investigation into various international matches that Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer, had attempted to manipulate for betting purposes.

“This large-scale investigation was conducted by FIFA over several years through its integrity department and in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders and authorities,” read a FIFA statement.

AFP

FIFA Bans Ex-Brazil Football Chief Marin For Life

Jose Maria Marin of Brazil, one of three defendants in the FIFA scandal, arrives at the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn in New York. Don EMMERT / AFP

 

FIFA on Monday slapped a lifetime ban on the disgraced former boss of Brazilian football, Jose Maria Marin after a US court convicted him of massive corruption.

The 86-year-old Marin was one of the key figures swept up in the graft scandal that began with a series of stunning arrests in 2015 and subsequently upended world football.

He had already been sentenced to four years in a US prison after a court in New York found him guilty in connection with nearly $6.6 million in bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for contracts to broadcast major tournaments.

But the decision from FIFA’s independent ethics judges definitively confirms that Marin is finished in football.

FIFA’s ethics committee said in a statement that Marin had participated in various bribery schemes.

Judges “banned him for life from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level”, a FIFA statement said.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Beat Chelsea To Reclaim Premier League Lead

FIFA also imposed a 1 million Swiss franc ($1 million) fine against Marin, once one of the most powerful figures in world football.

Following his May 2015 arrest at a luxury hotel in Zurich, Marin spent five months in a prison in Switzerland before being extradited to the United States.

He posted bail of $15 million and spent two years living in luxury at Trump Tower, the Fifth Avenue skyscraper best known for housing the penthouse and company headquarters of the US president.

But his life of excess dramatically came to a halt at his sentencing in August, when he broke down in tears over the “nightmare” his family had endured.

AFP

Sierra Leone Places One-Month Ban On Industrial Fishing

 

Sierra Leone has banned industrial fishing in its territorial waters for a month from Monday in a move to try to shore up stocks that were applauded by environmental activists.

The government also decreed an April 1-30 halt to exports by major fishing companies “to protect our fish stock from depletion”, said a statement from the fisheries ministry.

“All industrial fishing companies should stock their fish in cold rooms … during the period of closure,” Minister of Fisheries Emma Kowa Jalloh told AFP.

The West African states of Mauritania, Senega, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone lost about $2.3 billion (more than 2.1 billion euros) a year from 2010 to 2016 due to illegal and undeclared fishing, according to the Greenpeace environmental group.

Sierra Leone National Fishermen Consortium chairman Alpha Sheku Kamara accused China and Korea of destroying stocks.

“We are happy that the government has declared fishing period closure after series of complaints,” he told AFP at the bustling Tombo fishing community outside the capital Freetown.

“Industrial fishing boats from China and Korea are destroying our nets and also depleting the fish stock,” he said.

“We are calling on the government to effectively enforce the ban with surveillance.”

Many coastal communities in Sierra Leone depend on fishing for food and their livelihood, said Steve Trent, executive director at Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).

“We applaud the ban but the long answer is for legal, equitable and sustainable fishing industry management to be introduced.”

“We are working towards helping Sierra Leone with surveillance boats and regulatory framework for sustainable fishing methods,” Trent said.

“Illegal fishing accounts for about 30 per cent of catches by industrial foreign fleets in Sierra Leone, according to the 2017 Sea Around Us project at the University of British Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley and five other organisations.

It found that in the past decade industrial foreign vessels have increased illegal activities off Sierra Leone either on their own or by enticing small-scale fishers into illicit partnerships.

Reduced monitoring and surveillance resulting from the withdrawal of development aid encouraged unlicensed operations, researchers said, noting an estimated 42,000 tonnes caught by illegal fishing in 2015.

A representative of a large Chinese fishing company in Sierra Leone declined to comment to AFP.

AFP

Tottenham Manager Pochettino Could Appeal Against Touchline Ban

Pochettino Warned Tottenham Players To Keep Cool During Derby Brawl
Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino gestures on the touchline. Credit:  Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

 

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says he could appeal against the two-game touchline ban he received for his furious blast at the referee in last month’s defeat at Burnley.

Pochettino accepted a Football Association charge of improper conduct and apologised for the incident that followed Tottenham’s controversial 2-1 loss on February 23.

Infuriated by Burnley’s first goal coming from a corner that he believed shouldn’t have been given, the Argentine stormed onto the pitch to confront Mike Dean at the final whistle.

But Pochettino was shocked at the extent of a punishment, which also included a £10,000 fine and would leave him in the stands for both Saturday’s fixture at his former club Southampton and against Liverpool on March 31.

He is still waiting for the FA’s explanation and is considering his options, partly because he believes the indiscretion to be his first in English football.

READ ALSO: Messi Returns To Argentina Team After Eight-Month Absence

“It wasn’t the idea to appeal. Because in my mind it wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t the best way to complain or talk with the referee, but I never expected this type of situation,” Pochettino told reporters on Thursday.

“Now I need to think. I need to see the reasons why and then we’ll see what happens.

“I am a little bit in shock because it is completely unfair. It’s my seventh season in England and you can see my behaviour from day one.

“It is my first time here that I’m maybe not completely right in my behaviour but I feel this is too much. I feel a little bit sad and disappointed. It’s unbelievable, no?”

Tottenham could be strengthened for Saturday’s fixture by the return to fitness of England midfielder Dele Alli, who has trained following a hamstring injury and faces a late fitness test.

Harry Winks will be assessed because of a potential groin problem before Pochettino selects his starting line-up.

Pochettino’s impressive spell as Southampton’s manager led the Argentine to be recruited by Spurs, and he revealed the heartache that followed his move from St Mary’s

“Of course a lot aren’t going to forgive me, but I still love them,” he said. “I love Southampton. The time I spent there was a great experience; I enjoyed it a lot.

“I cried a lot when I left. My family, too. It was one of the most important periods of my life with my family, that I enjoyed the most, which is why it was so tough.”

AFP

Sergio Ramos Gets Two-Match European Ban

Real Madrid’s Spanish defender Sergio Ramos reacts during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Viktoria Plzen at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid.  GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Real Madrid center-back Sergio Ramos has been handed a two-game suspension by UEFA for deliberately getting himself booked during his team’s Champions League last 16, first leg against Ajax.

The Spaniard was booked for a tackle on Kasper Dolberg in Real’s 2-1 victory in Amsterdam on February 13, two minutes after Marco Asensio scored the winning goal.

Three yellow cards over the course of the competition bring a one-match suspension and UEFA said Ramos had been punished “for clearly receiving a yellow card on purpose”, with the aim of being clear for a potential quarter-final tie.

European football’s governing body set a precedent last season when Real full-back Dani Carvajal was suspended for two games after initially earning a booking in the group stage.

The 32-year-old Ramos said the day after the match that he did not “force the card”.

But straight after the game, he had appeared to admit that he got himself booked on purpose.

READ ALSO: Barca Extend Alba’s Contract Until 2024

“The truth is that given the result I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t something I had in mind,” Ramos had said.

“It is not to underestimate the opponent but sometimes there is a time to make decisions and I did so.”

Real resume their bid for a fourth consecutive Champions League title in the return leg against Ajax on March 5.

Meanwhile, UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body also announced fines for both Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain following incidents during their last 16, first leg at Old Trafford on February 12.

The Premier League club were fined 16,000 euros ($18,212) after their supporters blocked stairways and threw objects.

PSG, who won the game 2-0, were given a more hefty fine of 41,000 euros for crowd disturbances, throwing of objects, setting off fireworks, and “acts of damage”. They were also ordered to pay United for repairs to damaged seats.

In addition, PSG were fined a further 25,000 euros after being found responsible for the late kick-off in their 4-1 victory at Red Star Belgrade in the group stage, while coach Thomas Tuchel was given a suspended one-game ban.

Red Star were fined 64,000 euros for incidents in the same game involving their supporters, including “illicit chanting”.

However, charges against Chelsea for alleged anti-Semitic chanting during their Europa League game against Vidi in Hungary in December were dropped.

AFP

Southampton’s Austin Banned For Two Games

Derby County’s English midfielder George Evans (R) vies with Southampton’s English striker Charlie Austin (L) during the English FA Cup third round football match between Derby County and Southampton at Pride Park Stadium in Derby, central England on January 5, 2019.
Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

Southampton striker Charlie Austin has been suspended for two matches after making an offensive gesture towards Manchester City fans.

Austin admitted making the two-fingered action as he was substituted in the second half of Southampton’s 3-1 defeat against City at St Mary’s in December.

“The striker admitted his gesture in or around the 68th minute of the game against Manchester City on 30 December 2018 was abusive and/or insulting,” a FA statement read.

Austin’s absence will be a blow to struggling Southampton as they battle to avoid relegation.

In 2013, Jack Wilshere, then playing for Arsenal, showed the middle finger to Manchester City fans in a 4-2 defeat at the Etihad Stadium, resulting in a two-game ban.

AFP

China Bans Brazil’s Tardelli For Rubbing Face During Anthem

 

China’s football association has handed a one-game ban to Shandong Luneng’s Brazilian midfielder Diego Tardelli for rubbing his face during the Chinese national anthem before a game.

The country’s Communist regime passed a law last year to severely punish people who disrespect the anthem, and Tardelli is not the first prominent figure to be punished in China over the “The March of the Volunteers”.

Tardelli, 33, was looking down and rubbing his face with his right hand as the anthem played before the game against Shanghai SIPG on Sunday.

“Tardelli’s manners were not solemn when the national anthem was played and sung, causing adverse social impact,” the CFA said in a punishment notice published on Wednesday.

The ruling shocked some fans.

“Touching his face is undignified behaviour? That’s a bit of exaggeration,” wrote one person on China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblogging website.

But others backed the ban.

“What’s wrong with CFA’s action? No matter which country you come from, you should show respect to a country’s national anthem and national flag,” another post read.

With global interest in Chinese football growing, the CFA has been busy dishing out bans, fines or warnings for on- and off-field misdemeanours that would go unpunished or receive a mere wrist slap in most countries.

SIPG received a warning and a 40,000 yuan ($5,800) fine from the CFA for arriving late to the game on Sunday before beating Shandong Luneng 4-2.

Tardelli’s ban came weeks after authorities in Shanghai detained a popular live-streamer for five days after she waved her arms and mimicked a conductor as she sang the anthem during a broadcast.

In September last year, the National People’s Congress passed a law against mocking the national anthem, with a punishment of up to 15 days in jail. The NPC changed the criminal law in November to allow sentences of up to three years.

President Xi Jinping, considered China’s most powerful leader since Chairman Mao Zedong, has stepped up the promotion of patriotism in the world’s most populous country.

Xi also has grand ambitions to turn China into a global football powerhouse that could one day host a World Cup.

AFP