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  1. Like most guys in their late 30s working in the City, I was stuck in a rut, completely sedentary, working too many hours and spending too many nights in pubs & bars around London. I was 38 with the energy of a 78 year old, and sporting a waist that was expanding past all my belt buckles. After a very close bereavement in the family, it suddenly brought it home to me – I needed to make a change. For months I spun my wheels on cookie cutter diets and training plans with no real idea of what I was doing. I lost some weight, but I quickly failed, fell off the wagon and slipped back into old habits. With the Big 'Four 0' quickly approaching, I reached out to Akash at RNT Fitness. The journey wasn't easy by any means. I thought I could wing it with pre-cooked meals, skipped sessions and the odd beer. How wrong I was! I told Akash I wanted a 'champion's physique' on my 40th birthday, so the excuses had to stop. We set a goal of booking a photoshoot for my 40th birthday – which was now 5-6 months away. From here on, the results I achieved blew past my expectations. I can put my results down to three key attributes. 1) Accountability This was big for me. Throughout my journey I had two levels of accountability: to my coach but also to a photoshoot! There's nothing more unforgiving than being half naked in front of a camera. If you're not ready, you'll be exposed and embarrassed. © RNT Fitness 2) Finding the right diet for my lifestyle It took a lot of trial and error to get this right, but when I did, it made a huge difference. I began to meal prep in advance, and started eating five meals a day of the following: Meal 1 – 4 Eggs and Spinach Meal 2 – 125g Chicken, ½ Avocado, Greens Meal 3 – 150g Lean Lamb Mince, Greens Meal 4 – 40g Whey, 20g Almonds Meal 5 – 150g Salmon, 150g Greens, 60g Rice or 200g Sweet Potato If I trained, I also added 30g fast carbs, 15g essential amino acids and 5g creatine. This diet formed the base for me to work off, and we made tweaks through the process till I reached my goal © RNT Fitness 3) Hitting my step target everyday This was real game changer for me. I went from sedentary office worker doing 1-2,000 steps a day to doing over 20,000 steps a day. This basic change made a crazy difference in my level of fat loss, energy, digestion and overall well being. Life changing is a phrase thrown around all the time, but when you lose 30kg, go from wearing 'stretchy' 36-inch to 28-inch trousers, and sport a better body than most 20-somethings, it really is. If you're looking to get results, look no further than RNT. I can't recommend them enough. © RNT Fitness
  2. US fighter jets were to sent to investigate an unidentified flying object off the coast of San Diego, as it revealed in classified footage, yesterday. The video was released by the United States Department of Defence (DoD) and it reveals a mystical white oval that was hovering above the Pacific Ocean. The footage was analysed by a secret programme that deals with investing reports of UFOs. The Pentagon has officially admitted that the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Programmes existed and ran from 2007 to 2012 and was allowed $22 million in funding. The footage released by the DoD was taken in 2004 where an encounter was registered with the object. It was chased by two Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets, from the aircraft carrier Nimitz. © US Navy Commander Fravor was flying one of the two jets for a routine training exercise and was diverted to investigate the UFO that was spotted on radar. The Commander was 160Km into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego at the time of the incident. “Look at that thing, dude,” one of the pilots is heard exclaiming in the clip. “It's rotating,” Fravor told The New York Times the object was about 40ft long and had no wings or rotors. The UFO had no plumes and could outpace the F-18s easily. It was big enough to churn the sea 50ft below it, he said. © Youtube He said: “I literally chased the thing and it started to mirror us — it was like it became aware we were there. I cut across to see if I could get closer and it rapidly accelerated and disappeared. Within a matter of a second, it was gone.” © US Department of Defence Fravor told the Daily Telegraph“It jammed the radar. You couldn't lock it with a conventional radar. You could passively track it and see it, but if you tried to grab a lock it wouldn't allow you to do that. “When it takes off and goes to the side, that's a significant amount of distance to travel in a very short period of time — we're talking miles. That thing just goes poof and in about a second it's off the side of the screen.” In a very serious warning to governments around the world, the pilot warned that we need to take this threat seriously as a species. He stated that we as a species do not know the intent of these UFOs. He urged the governments to try to understand what they are doing here if they are of extraterrestrial in nature. Fravor suggested governments study and develop technology in case these objects have a bad intention. Source: Daily Telegraph
  3. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Image Courtesy: REUTERS video/Screenshot SEOUL: Kim Jong Un warned the United States on Monday he had a ?nuclear button? on his desk ready for use if North Korea was threatened, but offered an olive branch to South Korea, saying he was ?open to dialogue? with Seoul. After a year dominated by fiery rhetoric and escalating tensions over Pyongyang?s nuclear weapons program, the North Korean leader used his televised New Year?s Day speech to declare his country ?a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power? and call for lower military tensions and improved ties with the South. ?When it comes to North-South relations, we should lower the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula to create a peaceful environment,? Kim said. ?Both the North and the South should make efforts.? Kim said he would consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February. ?North Korea?s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success. Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility,? Kim said. South Korea said it welcomed Kim?s offer. But US-based experts saw Kim?s speech as a clear attempt to divide Seoul from its main ally, Washington, which has led an international campaign to pressure North Korea through sanctions to give up weapons programs aimed at developing nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States. ?We have always stated our willingness to talk with North Korea anytime and anywhere if that would help restore inter-Korean relations and lead to peace on the Korean Peninsula,? a spokesman for the South Korean presidency said. Lee Hee-beom, president of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, said it welcomed North Korean participation and would ?discuss relevant matters with the South Korean government as well as the International Olympic Committee.? South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said North Korea?s participation would ensure the safety of the Olympics and proposed last month that Seoul and Washington postpone large military drills that the North denounces as a rehearsal for war until after the Games. Asked to comment on Kim?s speech, US President Donald Trump said: ?We?ll see, we?ll see,? as he walked into a New Year?s Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. ?Pokes at the fissure? The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment on Kim?s New Year?s address, but analysts said it was an attempt to weaken the US-South Korean alliance. ?This speech pokes at the fissure that has lain below the surface in US-South Korean relations, and seems designed to drive a wedge there,? said Douglas Paal, a former senior US diplomat who heads the Asia program at Washington?s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. ?President Moon needs a successful Olympics and the US drive to increase pressure fits poorly with the Southern agenda.? Evans Revere, another former senior US diplomat who took part in unofficial talks with North Korean officials last year, said Pyongyang would likely try to extract concessions as a ?price? for Olympics participation. ?It?s hard to imagine Seoul falling for this,? he said, adding that Seoul and Washington had so far stayed in synch in the pressure and isolation campaign. Revere said Kim?s speech contained the strongest defence yet of North Korea?s status as a permanently nuclear-armed country. ?Implicit in Kim Jong Un?s speech is a willingness to engage with others, including the United States, on the basis of their acceptance of the ?reality? of North Korea?s permanent nuclear status. That?s not a basis on which the United States is prepared to engage,? he said. Moon took office last May pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue. But North Korea snubbed his overtures, including an offer to hold inter-Korean military talks about ceasing hostile activities along the border, as it tested missiles at an unprecedented pace. Kim said that rather than encouraging US measures that ?threaten the security and peace of the Korean peninsula,? Seoul should instead respond to overtures from the North, and ?stop nuclear war exercises with foreign forces.? ?Reality, not a threat? North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September in defiance of international sanctions, raising fears of a new conflict on the Korean peninsula. After North Korea tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November, which it said was capable of delivering a warhead to anywhere in the United States, Kim declared his nuclear force complete. He continued that theme in his New Year?s address, announcing that North Korea would focus in 2018 on ?mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment?. That, Kim said, was ?irreversible with any force?, making it impossible for the United States to start a war against North Korea. ?The whole territory of the US is within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office and this is just a reality, not a threat,? he said while emphasizing that the weapons would only be used if North Korea was threatened. Kim?s customary New Year?s speech is closely watched for indications of the policy direction the unpredictable and reclusive leader is likely to pursue in the coming year. Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat for East Asia until last April and now at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said there was an argument to be made to encourage North Korea?s Olympic participation but that it should not be taken too far. ?It?s perfectly legitimate to dial down some of the signalling and the rhetoric ... but not to load up their tray with concessions in advance. We should reward responsible behaviour, but not try to bribe North Korea into behaving; that doesn?t work,? he said. Nam Sung-wook, a North Korea expert at Korea University in Seoul said Kim was likely to tone down his weapons testing ? at least ahead of the Olympics. ?What North Korea is most afraid of is being forgotten in the international arena,? he said. ?Without launching missiles and conducting a nuclear test, North Korea will be in the spotlight just by attending the Winter Olympics.? Harry Kazianis, director of defence studies at Washington?s conservative Center for the National Interest, said that if North Korea did participate in the Olympics, there could be a lull in tensions, but only a brief one. ?As we move into the spring, Pyongyang will once again test all different types of missiles and weapons,? he said.
  4. [embed_video1 url= style=center] ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) on Monday evening summoned United States ambassador David Hale over US President Donald Trump?s statement against Pakistan. According to sources, Hale was summoned to record protest against Trump?s statements. The US president alleged in his tweet that Pakistan has given nothing except for ?lies and deceit? in return for the aid the US provided Pakistan with. Trump?s ?no more? holds no importance: Khawaja Asif 'Already told US we will not do more, so Trump?s ?no more? does not hold any importance,' foreign minister says To discuss Trump's statement, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has also summoned a meeting of the National Security Committee, sources said. The premier wants to take leaders of the opposition parties into confidence over the controversial tweet by the US president, sources added. In a tweet on Monday, the US president claimed that the United States had foolishly given Pakistan over $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years. In his tweet, Trump accused Pakistan of thinking US leaders to be fools. ?They give safe havens to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!? Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, in a reply to the US president's tweet, said Pakistan will let the world know the truth and will be responding to Trump's tweet. 'No more': Trump lambasts Pakistan, threatens to cut US aid Trump accuses Pakistan of giving nothing but lies and deceit and providing safe haven to terrorists He added that there is a difference between facts and fiction. The foreign minister, following the tweet by Trump, called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, sources informed Geo News. The meeting held a detailed review of Trump's statement, sources added, besides discussing the country's foreign policy. ?Pakistan has done enough, time for Afghanistan and US to do more? In a news conference held on 28 December, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor stated no organised infrastructure of a terrorist organisation exists in Pakistan. His statement was in reference to the unfounded talk by the US and Afghanistan on the presence of terrorist bases in Pakistan. ?We have been saying that Pakistan has fought twice an imposed and imported war inside Pakistan. We have sacrificed a lot. We have paid a huge price both in blood and treasure. We have done enough and we cannot do any more for anyone. Whatever we are doing and shall, will only be done for Pakistan.? The spokesperson clarified that the Coalition Support Fund, received from the US, is reimbursement of money spent for operations in support of the coalition for regional peace. "Had we not supported, al-Qaeda would not have been defeated," the ISPR chief stated. Commenting on blaming Pakistan for inaction against the Haqqani Network, Ghafoor said: ?Blame for inaction against [the] Haqqani Network might have been relevant owing to our capacity issues till Zarb-e-Azb". However, he added, the Army went into North Waziristan indiscriminately and took action against the Haqqani Network as well. ?The effect of any operation does not appear at that time. What we do today or this year, the impact will be felt in subsequent years and months.? He further said that if there any facilitators or abettors inside Pakistan, that can only be addressed if 2.7 million Afghan refugees are sent back to Afghanistan for which pull factors should be created by Kabul and Washington.
  5. AML chief Sheikh Rasheed talking to the media today. Photo: Geo News ISLAMABAD: Even if the entire Arab world unites, Nawaz Sharif will not get an NRO, said Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rasheed on Monday. He was referring to unverified reports linking the former prime minister and his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif's current visit to Saudi Arabia with an attempt to seek a 'deal' out of their present legal predicaments. Nawaz fears Shehbaz?s ascent in Saudi circles, claims Aitzaz Ahsan Talking to the media, the PPP leader said the PML-N chief did not go to Saudi Arabia on the Kingdom's invitation Addressing the media outside the Supreme Court, the vocal opposition leader claimed the Sharifs are not being granted an audience with the Saudi royal family. "Both brothers are waiting to be summoned [by the Saudi royal leadership] since yesterday," he claimed. Reports of Nawaz-Saudi deal ?baseless?: spokesman The statement said that Nawaz has had long-standing relations with the country and there is no truth in these reports Rasheed stated further that the time has come to resign [from the assemblies] and come out on the streets. He informed further that Pakistan Peoples Party's leader and senior advocate Sardar Latif Khosa will represent him in the Hudaibiya and LNG cases. "He [Khosa] promised to represent me in the cases during the recent all parties conference (APC) in Lahore," said Rasheed, adding that the APC was a success in his opinion and he cannot say the same for others.
  6. Indian captain Virat Kohli shakes hands with Pakistani players after a match in June 2017. Photo: AFP NEW DELHI: India has once again made clear its stance that, for the time being, there will be no bilateral cricket series between the two countries, even at neutral venues. According to a report in the Indian media, Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj indicated the government's stance at a meeting of the consultative committee attached to the ministry that offered a review of relations with neighbours. Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj On being asked about restarting the long-suspended 'cricket diplomacy' between the rivals, Swaraj said the high number of cross-border firings do not set the tone for any kind of bilateral engagements, the report added. Talking to Geo News about the development, former Pakistan cricketer and commentator Ramiz Raja said, "I do not understand this rhetoric. The Indian government has decided that they will not let people to people contact to take place.? ?I fail to understand why the sport is dragged into these matters,? he added. Similarly, former player and analyst Sikander Bakht said "the people and cricketers of India do not agree with this [decision]. These are the policies of the [Narendra] Modi government.? Signing new FTP conditional to India series, says PCB The PCB has claimed a compensation of $70 million from the BCCI for not honouring the MoU signed in 2014 The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has claimed a compensation of $70 million from the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) for not honouring the MoU signed in 2014, which said that both the countries would play six series between 2014 and 2023. PCB also recently raised objections with India about the Future Tour Programme schedule for excluding any bilateral series with the green shirts. PCB intimated in an official release that they will challenge the new schedules until they get to play against India in a bilateral series.
  7. Our Hollywood obsession (most times) may or may not get what we want but Bollywood is surely making one hell of an impact overseas. Don't believe us? Well, believe it when we tell you that Will Smith Jr., Jaden Smith has expressed his keenness on starring in a Bollywood movie! Upon hearing this news, Indian fans were more than happy to oblige and help Jaden fulfil his dream ( ) I Wanna Be In A Bollywood Movie 𥠗 Jaden Smith (@officialjaden) 27 December 2017 Love This One Though #DhoomMachale #Jaden — No one (@sanmistryious) 28 December 2017 Kat Would Love Jaden In Bollyood Hey Jaden, say hi to Kat ð — No one (@sanmistryious) 28 December 2017 There's Your Dance Move Jaden. Sallu Bhai Would Be Proud — lola 39 (@khalidiot) 27 December 2017 Bollywood has always projected actors as demi-Gods who are larger than life and apart from that, the glitz and the glamour of the industry reaches out to even international movie stars. So if junior Smith wants to shake a leg or two on Bollywood numbers, we'll be nothing but welcoming! (c)Giphy Also, encouraging this remarkable idea is Lilly Singh (from the Superwoman fame on YouTube), who took to Twitter to tell Jaden he needn't worry about a dancing partner anymore! (c)Youtube While Jaden hasn't said anything about taking up her offer, Twitter is really excited for both Jaden being part of Bollywood and Lilly's offer to become his dance partner! If you need a dance partner, I volunteer as tribute ð — Lilly Singh (@IISuperwomanII) 29 December 2017 Yaaaaaaas Superwoman — Rani | Spread1Love ♥ (@teamsuperrussia) 29 December 2017 And Here Are Some Words Of Encouragement For Her Too Seeing you in a Bollywood movie is actually my goal for 2018 — Suri ⨠(@TeamSuperMumbai) 29 December 2017 A High Five From Us Too — SanyaTeamSuperDelhi (@TeamSuperDelhi) 29 December 2017 Yes Please! PLEASE LET THIS BE A THING — TeamSuperT.Oð (@LilleenF) 29 December 2017 Loving The Support, Aren't You Lilly? — Ava LeClair (@ava_leclair) 29 December 2017 Here's wishing the two of them luck and a hopeful sight of them dancing together in a well scripted Bollywood movie, super soon!
  8. French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speak ahead of a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool/Files PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will raise human rights issues with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan when they meet next Friday, the Elysee said on Saturday. Erdogan's visit to France comes as he faces widespread criticism over a far-reaching crackdown against opponents linked to last year's failed coup attempt ? which has seen the arrest of opposition politicians, journalists and activists ? and led to accusations of human rights abuses. The meeting "will be an opportunity to discuss issues related to bilateral relations between our two countries, as well as regional issues including a particular focus on the Syria issue? but also the on the Palestinian issue," said the Elysee, adding that "the issue of human rights" would be discussed. Earlier, on Saturday, Erdogan announced he would travel to France to discuss bilateral relations in a televised speech to members of his ruling AKP party. After a year of particularly strained ties with European countries, Erdogan has recently expressed hope for a better relationship with the EU, telling Turkish journalists on Thursday, "I always say this. We must reduce the number of enemies and increase the number of friends." Erdogan launched a huge purge of state institutions after the attempted coup in July 2016; more than 55,000 people have been arrested since then and human rights groups have regularly reported accusations of torture and abuse. Loup Bureau ? a French journalist who was detained in a Turkish prison for more than seven weeks on "terror" charges ? returned to France in September after Macron appealed to Erdogan for his release. Also in September, Macron ? in an interview with Greek daily Kathimerini ? said "Turkey has objectively moved away from the European Union in recent months, with disturbing drifts that can not remain without consequence".
  9. Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference at Carthage Palace in Tunis, Tunisia, December 27, 2017. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/Files PARIS: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will visit Paris on January 5 to meet his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron ? with the conflict in Syria high on the agenda ? a source in the French president?s office said on Saturday. Among the regional crises the two leaders plan to discuss, there would be a particular focus on Syria as well as on the Palestinian situation, the source said, weeks after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel?s capital. The move stirred concern among Western allies and outrage in the Arab World. Erdogan earlier this week made some of his harshest comments in weeks regarding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, calling him a terrorist and saying it was impossible for peace efforts in Syria to continue if he did not leave power. Macron, meanwhile, said recently that France would push for peace talks involving all parties in the six-year-old Syrian conflict, including al-Assad, and promised ?initiatives? early next year. The Elysee source said ?the question of human rights will also be raised? when Erdogan and Macron meet. A security crackdown in Turkey after a failed coup in 2016 has drawn criticism from campaigners as well as the European Union, which is overseeing Ankara?s halting bid to join the bloc.
  10. Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts during the Premier League match against Burnley, in Manchester's Old Trafford, Britain, December 26, 2017. Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith/Files Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be sidelined for a month with a knee injury, manager Jose Mourinho said. The former Sweden international was not in Saturday?s squad as Mourinho?s men were held to a 0-0 stalemate by Southampton at Old Trafford ? United?s third successive draw. Ibrahimovic was re-signed by United in the summer, having departed the club at the end of last season, and overcame meniscus and cruciate ligament damage to return to action in late November. However, Mourinho ? who saw Romelu Lukaku carried off on a stretcher during Saturday?s Premier League encounter against Southampton ? said Ibrahimovic is set for another injury layoff. ?We lost Ibrahimovic for a month, he stops his run to recovery, he has been running for many months, what he needs is to play,? Mourinho said.
  11. Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (Fazl) President Fazl-ur-Rehman addressing the FATA Supreme Council's protest in the federal capital here on Saturday. Photo: Geo News ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (Fazl) President Fazl-ur-Rehman on Saturday said the tribal citizens should not be pressurised for the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). "The tribes have their own identity and only tribal leaders, no one else, should make a decision about their land," Rehman said while addressing the FATA Supreme Council's protest in the federal capital. "They [tribal citizens] should not be pressured over the KP-FATA merger," he said. "We stand in solidarity with the citizens of FATA, and we shall continue to struggle for their rights." He further said that the 2001-decision of "US slavery" was wrong. "I remained resolute at that time, and now too, I am ready to go to jail for my stance."
  12. ISLAMABAD: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday said he supports FATA Youth Jirga and its movement to merge the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The PPP scion added, in a video released, that his party has always struggled for the rights of the people from the tribal areas. "Pakistan Peoples Party has always struggled for the rights of the people from the tribal areas and I support the movement to merge FATA with KP and stand with the FATA Youth Jirga and always will," said the PPP chairman. In the video, Bilawal further says that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made sincere efforts to merge the tribals areas and Benazir Bhutto made PPP's special FATA committee. "She even went to the Supreme court to get the tribal people their rights." Earlier in December, the FATA Supreme Council held a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and presented its stance to maintain a separate identity. The matter of FATA's merger with KP was left unresolved after the meeting. However, the tribal areas' supreme council and the government agreed to continue deliberations on the matter. The issue of FATA's merger with KP is one of the pending matters for the incumbent government and has dominated the political discourse of the country in recent weeks. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman has conditionally agreed to support the proposal of FATA's merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and said that further consultations for the FATA Reforms Bill will continue to be held. ?We will continue to hold discussions with the government over FATA Reforms Bill,? Rehman had said, adding that additional meetings with the military leadership will not be required. "We presented our stance to them which was to gain the approval of the FATA supreme council," he said. More than 500 tribal elders had held a grand jirga on December 14 and rejected the possible merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The elders, hailing from the tribal areas, were of the opinion that FATA should be given the status of a separate province. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa had also recently assured delegations from FATA that the Pakistan Army fully supports mainstreaming of the region in line with aspirations of tribal brothers. General Bajwa had said he valued the views of the tribal delegations regarding the future of FATA. He added that achievements through sacrifices of brave residents of FATA are being consolidated while the country transitions from relative stability to enduring peace. The recommendations to bring the tribal areas at par with the rest of the country were approved by the federal cabinet on March 2 but the matter has been delayed since then. The KP Assembly had adopted a resolution on December 14, 2016 in favour of merging FATA with KP with the aim of rehabilitating and reconstructing the infrastructure including roads, communications, power lines, water supply, education and health facilities.
  13. KIEV: A man believed to be carrying explosives is holed up in a post office in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, police spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo told the news channel 112 on Saturday. ?His demands are unknown to us,? Trakalo said. Nine adults and two children are trapped inside the post office with the man, Interfax news agency quoted Kharkiv regional police chief Oleg Bekh as saying.
  14. Hussain in a video message had requested army chief's help him with the heart transplant as it requires hefty sum-Video grab LAHORE: A 14-year-old boy was shifted today to the Combined Military Hospital after his he posted online a short video requesting army chief with help for his heart transplant. Ahsan Hussain was shifted from the Children?s Hospital Lahore, where he was under treatment, to CMH in an ambulance. In a video message shot from Children Hospital Lahore where he was being treated, Hussain had requested Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Lahore Corps Commander Lieutenant General Amir Riaz help him with the heart transplant as it requires hefty sum, which is unaffordable for his family. He also said the doctors have suggested he undergoes a heart transplant as only 20% of the organ was functioning. ?I urge all of you to support me and especially COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa uncle and Lahore Corps Commander General Amir uncle to help me,? the boy can be seen saying in the video message. After the video message came to the fore, it was reported that the Lahore Corps commander visited him at the hospital, where he also prayed for the 14-year-old?s health. Hussain is a resident of Kamalia in Toba Tek Singh and is the only child of his parents.
  15. To talk of Rahul Dravid's ability tells only half the story. He exhibited greatness at its most humble and is one of the most impressive men to ever play the game. Dignified, fair-minded, eloquent, gentle, yet tougher than we will ever realise. A selfless cricketer and down-to-earth human being who always did and said the right things; the kind of man you'd want your son to grow into. That's Rahul Dravid in a queue with his kids at a science exibhition. No show off; no page 3 attitude; no celebrity airs; no "do you know who I am?" looks; Queueing just like any other normal parent... really admirable... — South Canara (@in_southcanara) November 23, 2017 Greatness was not handed to him; he pursued it diligently, single-mindedly. Though he was technically sound, Dravid did not have the brutal audacity of Virender Sehwag, the poetic elegance of Laxman, the unfathomable enduring genius of Sachin Tendulkar or even the sublime cover drive of Ganguly. What he did have was substance; one that aided the Indian team in crunch situations and allowed Dravid to establish his reputation as a miracle worker. Now almost six years after his retirement, the substance that once reflected in his batting and character, has transformed Dravid into a mentor who is busy shaping up young minds in cricket. Instagram/@johncena Currently coaching the Indian U-19 team, Dravid was travelling with the youngsters for the ICC World Cup to New Zealand when he ran into Pakistani cricket star Mohammad Hafeez on the flight. Hafeez was travelling with his teammates for the limited-overs series in New Zealand. And given the reputation and high regard for Dravid in cricket fraternity, there's no way Hafeez was going to let 'The Wall' go without a quick selfie. The Pakistani all-rounder clicked a photo with the Indian batting legend and shared it on Twitter. Met with a man called THE WALL in cricket RAHUL bhai @Im_Dravid he is a great human being always there to talk about cricket & helping u out , honoured to play with him in the Feild & always pleasure to meet U , stay blessed — Mohammad Hafeez (@MHafeez22) 28 December 2017 "Met with a man called THE WALL in cricket RAHUL bhai @Im_Dravid he is a great human being always there to talk about cricket & helping u out, honoured to play with him in the Feild & always pleasure to meet U, stay blessed," Hafeez tweeted. Despite ending his career and continuing to maintain a low profile, Dravid remains one of the most respected cricketers in the history of the sport. And, as soon as Hafeez tweeted the photographs, the tweets that followed from the Pakistani fans highlighted the kind of goodwill Dravid enjoys across the globe. Dravid is a great cricketer but also a great person. Humble man — Rasheed shakoor (@rasheedshakoor) 29 December 2017 Such a fabulous player and a great human being.... @AzharAli_ should learn something from him. — khan sb (@kaab001) 29 December 2017 One of the greatest batsman cricket ever have — Farrukh Shameer (@shooby367) 29 December 2017 Rahul is a true gentleman of cricket. Great character — Faheem Tareen (@jeans19) 29 December 2017 Hafeez bhai take some batting tips from him — Aqib Mansoor (@AqibMansoor5) 29 December 2017
  16. An inspiration for many, a person to admire, a perfect example of making it big on his own, the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, is indeed a person to look up to. But what if he tells you he wasn't popular three years ago? What if he tells you that Shah Rukh Khan is somewhere responsible for all the fame and recognition he got? Wouldn't that really surprise you? Didn't we really know Sundar before 2014? © Reuters Sundar Pichai will soon be seen on SRK's famous TV show TED Talks India Nayi Soch and we are super excited. In the episode titled Tomorrow's World which airs this Sunday, he will talk about various things and will be seen connecting to millions via video conference. "Bollywood is globally famous," he said. Well, that's something which would totally make every Indian movie buff happy. Talking about him, Pichai said, "Everyone knows Shah Rukh, but people started to know me after my interview with him in 2014 for his film 'Happy New Year'. I must say his job is really cool, but he's cooler." Isn't it surprising that many of us had no clue about him! How many of you knew about him before his appearance with SRK? He also gave a wonderful life tip that won our hearts, "Slow down, take time to think about what you want to do from your heart," he said.
  17. Another hundred for Steve Smith, Dec 30, 2017/Getty Images MELBOURNE: Steve Smith scored his 23rd Test century to bat out a draw for Australia in the fourth Ashes Test and deny England their first win of the series in Melbourne on Saturday. The Australia skipper stonewalled the English bowling attack to remain unconquered on 102 for his third century of the series when the Test was called a draw late on the final day. Smith joined the legendary Don Bradman as the only batsmen to score centuries in four consecutive Melbourne Tests. He also joined Ricky Ponting as the only batsmen in Test history to have made six centuries in a calendar year on multiple occasions. Australia only lost two wickets on the fifth day but coasted through after lunch to finish on 263 for four with Mitchell Marsh not out on 29. The hosts have already clinched the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series ahead of the fifth and final Test in Sydney next week. It was just the second drawn Boxing Day Test in 20 years, although there was criticism of the lifeless state of the Melbourne Cricket Ground drop-in pitch. Smith and Marsh comfortably batted through after lunch to ensure England were unable to go for the win after leading by 164 runs on the first innings, following a record-breaking unbeaten 244 from opener Alastair Cook. The Australia captain led the salvage operation in a 275-ball vigil to take his series tally to 604 runs at an average of 151.00 after losing batting partners David Warner and Shaun Marsh before lunch on the final day. After two painstaking hours of minimal scoring, the tourists grabbed the wickets of Warner and Marsh to briefly raise hopes of grabbing their first win in an already-decided series. Warner had looked set for his 22nd Test hundred and second century of the match before he attempted to slog the second ball of Joe Root´s first over. The ball, pitched into the foot marks, skewed into the air and James Vince took a comfortable catch in the covers to give Root the perfect present on his 27th birthday. Warner dropped his head realising he had botched a golden chance to claim Test twin centuries for a fourth time in his career. The normally adventurous opener played with great circumspection to keep England at bay, batting for 301 minutes and 227 balls in his slowest Test innings. His dismissal also ended a 107-run stand with Smith, which helped Australia wipe out the innings deficit. There was some rare excitement in the final over before lunch when Marsh edged Stuart Broad to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who took a splendid catch. Cook was named man-of-the-match after carrying his bat in England´s first innings. England opener Cook carries bat in record innings Cook's unbeaten 244 is the highest ever score by an opener to have carried his bat through an innings It was the highest score by a batsman carrying his bat in Test history, bettering New Zealander Glenn Turner´s 223 not out against the West Indies in Kingston in 1972. The last Englishman to carry his bat through a Test innings was Mike Atherton with 94 against New Zealand in 1997. Cook also surpassed the highest score by a visiting batsman in a Test match at the famous MCG, bettering the 208 by West Indian great Viv Richards in 1984. There was a total attendance of 262,616 fans over the five days.
  18. Finally, one of the biggest controversies of the year has come to an end, and that too just in time. Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film 'Padmavati' was arguably the most talked about movie of the year, just because of all the drama that was surrounded by it, but the controversy has finally come to an end. The movie, which stars Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, was supposed to come out this month, but the release was delayed due to objections from Rajput Karni Sena for showing Queen Padmini in a bad light. It also faced a lot of issues getting clearance from Central Board of Film Certification. © Bhansali Productions But, it will finally see the light of the day, after of course going through some modifications that have been suggested by the censor board. The board has suggested 26 cuts to the film and a change in the title to 'Padmavat' - and will issue the certificate once the changes have been made. Along with that, some changes are also required to the song 'Ghoomar' and some disclaimers will be put before movie begins and during interval. With all of this then, 'Padmavat' will release with a U/A certificate. “The film was approached with balanced view keeping in mind both the filmmakers and society. Considering complexities and concerns around the film the requirement for a special panel was felt by CBFC to add perspective to the final decision,” an official of the censor board said. The film was approached with balanced view keeping in mind both the filmmakers & society. Considering complexities & concerns around the film the requirement for a special panel was felt by CBFC to add perspective to the final decision: CBFC #Padmavati — ANI (@ANI) December 30, 2017 Since the movie is based on partial historical facts, the special panel also had historians to add a proper perspective. Special panel consisted of Arvind Singh from Udaipur, Dr.Chandramani Singh & Prof K.K. Singh of Jaipur University. Panel member had insights & also some reservations regarding claimed historical events & socio-cultural aspects which were duly discussed at length: CBFC #Padmavati — ANI (@ANI) December 30, 2017 Even though a release date is yet to be announced, we at least now know for sure that it is definitely going to be released and that's making us excited for 2018 even more. Here is how people on Twitter reacted to this news: The biggest issue. #Padmavati turns #Padmavat. This "I" is a major issue in our country. — The Silent Screamer (@mujheawazdo) December 30, 2017 No, whatsoever. Change of Title for Padmavati. New Title = Padmavat. Remember the old saying? There's no “I” in success. #Padmavati #Padmavat — Mangalam Maloo (@blitzkreigm) December 30, 2017 Everyone is just fixated on the 'I'. If they put the removed i of padmavati on the first place it might turn its value to 10 times. As it does for the mobile phones.#Padmavati #padmavat — MOHIT GAUR (@crapbag___) December 30, 2017 We don't know. Padmavati becomes #Padmavat. What is this, gender reassignment surgery? — shunali khullar shroff (@shunalishroff) December 30, 2017 Yes, it will. From now on, if Apple user watch any video related to Padmavati , his/her iPhone will become Phone. #Padmavat — LolmLol (@LOLiyapa) December 30, 2017 We all love a good play on words, or rather letters in this case. Censor Board changes the title from #Padmavati to #Padmavat In protest, #Bhansali has changed his name to #Bhansal ð — Why So Silly® (@silly_why) December 30, 2017 True. Shakespeare: What's in a name? Sanjay leela Bhansali: Bhai 200 crore#Padmavat — SwatKat- The dancing Rajput ð (@swatic12) December 30, 2017 The best idea. They could have simply gone with PadmavaTEA. Wordplay ho jaata aur chai ko koi mana bhi nai karta.#Padmavati #Padmavat — Moody Motu (@MoodyMotu) December 30, 2017 Asking the important questions. Now that #Padmavati has lost an i, can we call the aggressors Karn Sena? Coz, an i for an i. — Punster® (@Pun_Starr) December 30, 2017
  19. Fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel work on the scene of an apartment fire in Bronx, New York, US, December 28, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky NEW YORK: A 3-year-old boy playing with the burners on a kitchen stove started a fire in a New York City apartment building that killed 12 people, including four children, city officials said on Friday. The toddler had a history of fiddling with the stove in the kitchen of his family?s first-floor apartment, his mother told officials investigating the deadliest fire in the city since 1990. Shortly before 7 PM (midnight GMT) on Thursday the child, who had been left unattended, started screaming as the kitchen filled with smoke and fire, Daniel Nigro, the city?s fire department commissioner, told reporters at a news conference. His mother grabbed him and a younger sibling, running outside to safety and leaving the apartment door open. ?The stairway acted like a chimney,? Nigro said at the Friday news conference. The blaze swept out the apartment doorway to higher floors of the five-story building, fanned by fresh oxygen each time frightened tenants flung open windows. ?People had very little time to react,? he said. ?They couldn?t get back down the stairs. Those that tried perished.? Apartment fire kills 12 in New York's Bronx A one-year-old child was among those killed in the fire on a bitterly cold night with temperatures well below zero Children aged 1, 2, and 7 ? as well as a boy whose age was unknown ? died, along with four men and four women, according to the New York Police Department. Among the dead were at least three members of the same family Karen Francis, 37, Charmela Francis, 7, and Kylie Francis, 2. Also identified as deceased were Maria Batiz, 58, and 19-year-old Shantay Young. ?Children starting fires is not rare,? Nigro said. He emphasized that young children should not be left unattended, and those fleeing apartment fires should always shut doors behind them once the last person is out. Authorities said firefighters rescued 12 people from the building and four people were in the hospital in critical condition. More than 160 firefighters responded to the four-alarm blaze, the first arriving about 3 minutes after emergency calls came in. About 20 people were already on fire escapes, Nigro said. New York City is going through a bitter cold snap with temperatures in the low-teens Fahrenheit (minus teens Celsius)and high winds. At least 14 families were homeless, and four of them were taken to hotels, according to the American Red Cross. ?There?s still around 10 families we have not connected with yet,? said Michael de Vulpillieres, a Red Cross spokesman. Red Cross representatives stationed on the block offered blankets and smoke alarm installations to residents. Firefighters sifted through the charred interior of the building, but the exterior showed little damage and the red fire escapes were intact. Shards of glass and chunks of ice littered the sidewalk outside. The building, with 26 apartments, has at least six open building code violations, according to city records. One violation was for a broken smoke detector in an apartment on the first floor, reported in August. ?I know there were concerns raised about the building itself,? Mayor Bill de Blasio told WNYC. ?Based on the research we have at this moment, it does not appear there was anything problematic about the building or the fire safety in the building.? The building is in the Belmont section of the Bronx, a primarily residential, close-knit neighbourhood known as the ?Little Italy? of the borough, near Fordham University and the Bronx Zoo. It was the deadliest fire in the city since an arsonist torched a Bronx nightclub in 1990, killing 87 people inside the venue that did not have fire exits, alarms or sprinklers, the New York Times reported. In 2007, 10 immigrants from Mali, including nine children, died after a space heater caught fire in a Bronx building.
  20. [embed_video1 url= style=center] ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, while responding to Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah?s statements on Shehbaz Sharif?s visit to Saudi Arabia, said on Friday that the Sharifs have old with the kingdom and no one should have reservations over it. The foreign minister was speaking to Geo News and said that the Sharif brothers have spent eight years in exile in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that due to religious reasons one person or another visits the kingdom from time to time. ?Not necessary that politics is brewing over there,? said the interior minister. 'Moving towards NRO' Earlier in the day, Khursheed Shah was asked about Shebaz Sharif's visit to Saudi Arabia. Shah said that it would be worrisome if this visit was aimed at resolving internal matters of the country. ?Pakistan is a nuclear country and should have its own policies and rule of rule. We do not need to knock on anyone else?s door.? Saad Rafique?s statement did not require such a response from ISPR: Shah Opposition leader said he did not find anything objectionable in railways minister's Dec 24 remarks The PPP leader added that the reason for the visit might be to get a new National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). When asked was the difference between this NRO and the one issued during the Musharraf government, Shah responded ?there is a huge difference. Democracy came in the country, an army general removed his uniform, Nawaz Sharif returned from exile. Parliament completed its tenure and there was a historic transfer of power. In this NRO it seems there are ongoing corruption cases. It is a problem of ladlas (dear ones)." Shah was referring to the departure of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Saad Rafique to Saudi Arabia. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is also expected to leave for the Kingdom over the weekend.
  21. The two companies failed to provide the necessary details in probe in Russian interference in the EU referendum-Reuters The UK Parliament has threatened Facebook and Twitter with sanctions if the social media giants fail to provide necessary information in the probe in Russian meddling in the EU referendum, the Guardian reported. The two companies have until January 18 to provide details regarding Russian interference and spreading of misinformation, Damian Collins, chair of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said. The committee is investigating the matter and had previously asked Facebook and Twitter to provide detailed information regarding the Russian campaign, including details of the accounts and pages propagating fake news. The two companies failed to provide the necessary details and instead provided in early December a copy of the information ?they had provided the Electoral Commission in response to a much narrower query about advertising spend from Russia during the six weeks leading up to the vote?. ?What I didn?t expect was they would essentially completely ignore our request,? Collins said, calling their response ?extraordinary?. ?They don?t believe that they have any obligation at all to initiate their own investigation into what may or may not have been happening on the site ? to look at the accounts that have been identified by the American authorities and say: OK, are there other accounts that share similar characteristics that could have come from the same source? They?ve not done any of that work at all.? Collins said that ?there has to be a way of scrutinising the procedures that companies like Facebook put in place to help them identify known sources of disinformation, particularly when it?s politically motivated and coming from another country.? ?They need to be able to tell us what they can do about it. And what we need to be able to do is say to the companies: we recognise that you are best placed to monitor what is going on your own site and to get the balance right in taking action against it but also safeguarding the privacy of users. The lawmaker said that social media giants need to be told that ?if you fail to do that, if you ignore requests to act, if you fail to police the site effectively and deal with highly problematic content, then there has to be some sort of sanction against you.? Facebook and Twitter have come under fire for doing little to address an onslaught of fake news on the platforms during the EU referendum as well as US elections. The companies have, however, repeatedly claimed to be clamping down on the trend. In May, Facebook said it will to send more potential hoax articles to third-party fact checkers and show their findings below the original post.
  22. Smile! Tennis star Roger Federer posed for a selfie with the world's happiest animal, warming his fans? hearts with too much cuteness. On Thursday, Federer spent some adorable moments with quokkas at Australia's Rottnest Island. Native to the place, quokkas are considered as the world's happiest animals for their friendly nature. They have no natural predators on the island and approach humans with little fear. The 36-year-old champion is in Australia for the Hopman Cup tournament in Perth. ?Meet my new furry friend. So happy to be back down under #HappyQuokka @westernaustralia #justanotherdayinWA,? an excited Federer tweeted. Fans couldn?t take the cuteness overload. The quokkas seemed to like Federer, too. Here?s a video of their little fun meeting.
  23. With a record 18 consecutive wins, zero losses and 15 points clear at the top, Manchester City's marauding campaign in the Premier League this season has arguably been one their fans are going to remember for a long time. While everyone is expecting them to drop points, City could be given extra motivation to blitz the league with a record-breaking points tally. In fact, the rampant Pep Guardiola side is on course to lift the title earlier than any side before them in the history of the Premier League. Though Guardiola's shrewd tactics have put City beyond the reach of their rivals, the pin-point accuracy of Kevin De Bruyne in the midfield and the pacy runs on either sides by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling have only added to the woes of their opponents. © Instagram/@dejesusoficial But the talent is not only on the pitch, such has been the performance of the City stars that it has often restricted equally good players in Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus to the bench. With Guardiola currently preferring Aguero over Jesus, the Brazilian star has surely struggled for proper game-time. With not enough full-game opportunities, Jesus recently turned his house into the playing field where his opponent turned out to be none other than his own mother. But it seems that the 20-year-old may have bitten off a little more than he could chew when taking on his mom in a casual kick-about. Vem seca não dona @veraluciadiniz7 ðð A post shared by Gabriel Jesus (@dejesusoficial) on Dec 20, 2017 at 3:20pm PST Enjoying a quick game of football in his front room, Jesus wasn't holding back as he nutmegged his mother, popping the ball through her legs in style. But, while Jesus was probably gloating about the move, his mother - who looked pretty handy with the ball at her feet - came back strong with a brilliant challenge that sent the City forward sprawling to the ground in a heap. © Instagram/@dejesusoficial Thankfully for City and Guardiola, Jesus appeared to be fine after being left red-faced by his mother. For, the other clubs, it seems, Jesus' mother might make a good centre-back to halt the fast-approaching City attack.
  24. As 2017 is closing out, here's a thought – of all the days and months spent partying, impressing girls and trying cool new things, how much time did we actually spend with our family? Definitely not enough. Well, we can always start fresh. This New Year, let's put our family first and find cool, new ways to spend more quality time with them. To help you out, we've listed down some fun and entertaining activities you can indulge in with your family to make them feel loved. 1. Plan A Weekly Family Night Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images Just one night a week is a great start to make your family feel loved and cared for. You can spend the night karaoke-ing, playing games or simply Netflix and chilling. The important thing is you do it together. 2. Family Vacations Are The Best Way To Bond Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images We often head out for vacations with our friends to discover the different corners of the world, but what about our family? It isn't too difficult or boring to once in a while head out on a vacation with them. You can make it an annual ritual that you'll stick to. Think of places that they would want to visit and get your tickets booked already! 3. Always Have A Meal Together Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images Having every meal of the day together might just not be possible, owing to our different schedules and plan, but what you can do instead is fix one meal, preferably breakfast, as a family meal and spend time conversing with each other. From office banter to your views on politics, share it all with your family. 4. Get Together And Share Family Stories Thinkstock Photo/Getty Images Dig out those old photo albums, sit together in a cosy room and listen to your parents tell you how they first met each other! From stories of their romance to saas-bahu drama's in your family, every situation from the past makes for a great story. The more you pay attention to your family and their stories, the more they'll feel loved and needed. 5. Get Your Hands Dirty In The Kitchen Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images Whoever said that men don't need to step into the kitchen forgot that most of the popular chefs around are men! So stop making excuses and step into the kitchen once in a while to help your mother or partner out. You could do the most basic things like handing her the spices or chopping vegetables, it's the gesture that counts. 6. Secure Their Future Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images You already do so much for your family. You ensure that all their needs are met – be it the best car to go around and have a good time, a big comfortable home to feel good and comfortable in, the best school so that your kids can get the best education, new games and gadgets, the best clothing and accessories, etc. However, we all know that life is uncertain and it's best to be prepared for tomorrow. So you need to ensure that the family doesn't have to compromise on the lifestyle you have given them, even when you aren't around. To ensure this, you need to sit them out and plan a Term Insurance policy that will benefit them. Educate them about the uses and benefits of the same. You can invest in a huge term cover at a small premium and ensure that the cover amount will be enough to meet your family's needs even in the absence of the policyholder – the bread earner of the family. Term insurance plan is a form of a life cover which provides security to your family in case of an unfortunate event. You just have to pay a nominal fee of Rs.32.27/- per day for a cover of Rs.1 Crore. With the help of this amount, it will be possible for your family to meet their daily expenses and maintain the lifestyle you have given them and at the same time manage their future expenses. Take a step towards your family's future by calculating your premium here.
  25. ROME: Italy will vote on March 4 in an election expected to produce a hung parliament, instability and possible market turbulence in the euro zone?s third largest economy. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni?s cabinet set the date of the vote after the president dissolved parliament on Thursday, formally opening an election campaign which in practice has already been raging bitterly for weeks. With opinion polls suggesting no one will win a parliamentary majority, Gentiloni said he would remain in office and ensure continuity until a new administration was in place. As things stand, a center-right alliance around Silvio Berlusconi?s Forza Italia (Go Italy!) looks set to take the largest number of seats - potentially catapulting the 81-year-old four-times premier back to center stage even though he cannot become prime minister due to a tax fraud conviction. Gentiloni told reporters at the end of his one-year spell in power that Italy should not fear uncertainty, noting that it was now common to many European countries. ?We mustn?t dramatize the risk of instability, we are quite inoculated against it,? he said, in reference to Italy?s frequent changes of government, adding that elsewhere in Europe there has been ?an Italianisation of political systems?. Germany is locked in talks to produce a new government after inconclusive elections, while Spain and Portugal have minority governments and Britain is in tangled negotiations over its exit from the European Union. However, Italy, with the largest public debt in the euro zone after Greece?s and one of the bloc?s highest jobless rates, is considered particularly vulnerable. Its economy is on course this year for its firmest growth since 2010, but it remains among the most sluggish performers in Europe as it has been since the start of monetary union in 1999. REVOLVING DOORS Gentiloni is the third prime minister since the last election in 2013, which also produced no clear winner. His predecessor, Matteo Renzi, quit in December 2016 after voters threw out his planned constitutional reforms in a referendum. Speaking earlier on Thursday at the prime minister?s traditional year-end news conference, Gentiloni appealed to parties not to peddle fear and make unrealistic promises. All the main political forces are pledging to raise the budget deficit and slash taxes despite record high public debt, and immigration is set to be a central theme of the campaign, with right-wing parties frequently warning of a migrant ?invasion?. The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement leads opinion polls with about 28 percent of the vote, followed by the ruling Democratic Party (PD), of which Gentiloni is a member, on around 23 percent. However, most seats in parliament are seen going to a conservative alliance, with Berlusconi?s Forza Italia on around 16 percent and the right-wing Northern League and Brothers of Italy on 13 and 5 percent respectively. The PD?s support has been falling, hurt by banking scandals and internal splits, and there has been speculation that Gentiloni may take over from its leader Renzi as its candidate for prime minister at the election. Gentiloni, whose popularity ratings are higher than Renzi?s, refused to be drawn on this, but advised the PD to reject populism and run a sober campaign as ?a tranquil party of government?. ?This is the message the PD has to give, and if it does so I think it will regain support,? he said. Although the presidency is usually a mainly ceremonial role, President Sergio Mattarella is likely to become a central figure if the election produces no clear winner. He is expected to ask the center right to try to form a government if, as expected it is the largest coalition. But if it cannot muster a majority then the second chance may fall to the maverick 5-Star if it is still the largest party. Its leader Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday he would work for a policy deal with other parties after the election, shifting away from the movement?s previous refusal to form alliances.