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27
Oct

Cricket Australia chairman retires, offers thoughts on sport

Cricket Australia chairman retires, offers thoughts on sport

Cricket Australia (CA) chairman Jack Clarke has officially retired from his position, but not before he offered some thoughts on controversies that came up during his tenure, as well as where he sees the sport heading in the future.

Clarke has been in charge of CA since 2008, and thus has been one of the central figures in the sport for the past three years, representing the country on the International Cricket Council (ICC). Clarke used his time at the podium during CA's general meeting to give some thoughts on his time as chairman.

Responding to criticism of the outgoing chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch and former national coach Tim Nielsen, Clarke defended both men, saying that fans unfairly dismissed their contributions to the sport.

"Andrew Hilditch, a fine servant of Australian cricket who has responded graciously to unfair media and public criticism, leaves center stage following a long period as a selector since 1996-97 and as chairman of the National Selection Panel since 2006," Clarke said at the meeting, according to ESPN. "During Andrew's time as a selector, Australian cricket achieved unparalleled success including three ICC World Cups, two ICC Champions Trophies and numerous Test series victories."

Clarke also said that Nielsen's accomplishments as coach were "overlooked," pointing to the top ranking as an ODI team under his tenure.

Of his time on the ICC, Clarke said that the sport must do more to tackle corruption going forward.

"The ICC has had a challenging year tackling corruption as a major issue and is also undertaking a governance review," he said. "Cricket's ambition to be a major world sport will be significantly influenced by the ICC succeeding with both these issues."

Australia will next face South Africa in two tests throughout November. You can catch these matches, and all the latest cricket matches, on Willow TV, which is free for two months when you send your first Xoom transfer to any bank in India, the U.K., South Africa, Australia or Canada.

27
Oct

Pacquiao: It’s personal

Pacquiao: It's personal

On several occasions, Manny Pacquiao has been criticized for being a bit too "nice" in the ring. A boxing fan certainly wouldn't lump in Pacquiao's easygoing demeanor and non-boastful attitude with a former champ like Mike Tyson, for example. But for his upcoming bout on November 12th with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao admits that the rivalry has gotten personal between the two fighters.

"Right now, outside the ring, there is nothing personal but when I get into the ring on November 12 it's going to be personal for us," the fighter told Reuters. "It seems personal to him because he talks too much, and he needs to prove it. He talks a lot, and it's not good for a fighter to talk a lot without action. Me, I don't talk a lot. I just do some action."

Pacquiao is referring to Marquez's claims that he should have won a controversial split decision that was awarded to Pacquaio the last time they fought. The Mexican boxer even went so far as to wear a t-shirt that read "We Were Robbed" while promoting his upcoming fight with the Filipino phenomenon.

Strength trainer Alex Ariza says Pacquiao is extremely motivated for the fight because of the perceived slight against him by Marquez.

"When something is personal, it's a lot different. He knows that he has to make a statement in this one," Ariza told the Associated Press. "I don't see Manny even touching gloves [with Marquez]. He has a disdain for the guy, and I've never known him to dislike anyone."

Boxing fans can see it all go down when they use Xoom to send their first money transfer to the Philippines, Latin America or the Caribbean. Qualifying transactions will get to see the fight free live on pay-per-view on November 12th. Those who complete their transactions before October 25th will be entered to win tickets to see the fight live in Las Vegas.

25
Sep

Unity Day commemorates the reunification of Germany

Oktoberfest will extend an extra day to be part of Unity Day celebrations in Germany.

October 3 is German Unity Day, a holiday to commemorate the anniversary of German reunification in 1990. Each year, Unity Day is marked with a ceremonial act and a festival in the German state that presides over Bundesrat, the Federal Council, that year. The main festivities will be held in Bonn, which is the former capital of West Germany, but other states will hold their own ceremonies as well.

This year, the holiday falls on a Monday, so everyone in Germany will have the day off. All the stores and offices will be closed, and public services, such as buses and trains, will run on a more relaxed Sunday schedule, which is good news for anyone who is planning to take part in Oktoberfest. The two-week festival usually ends on the first Sunday of October, but it has been extended to include the holiday this year.

Germans who are working in other countries will wire money to their families to they can go to Oktoberfest or cook a big meal for the holiday. Unity day is often commemorated with speeches from politicians and other figureheads, as well as fireworks and concerts.

20
Sep

Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, is honored around the world

On October 2, Indian people will honor the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, and people around the world will honor the day known as Gandhi Jayanti as well. The Father of the Nation was born on this day in 1869, and he played a major role in the Indian independence movement. He is credited with the development of satyagraha, or non-violent protest, and has inspired many civil rights movements around the world.

Gandhi lived modestly, humbly and honestly, and he encouraged others to follow suit. His non-violent approach to changing the world for the better rubbed some people the wrong way, and he was assassinated in January 1948 while approaching a stage to lead a prayer meeting. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered into the Sangam at Allahabad, where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet. The site is sacred in the Hindu religion and bathing in a sangam is said to free a person of the rebirth cycle and wash away their sins.

To honor the memory of the Father of the Nation, prayer services, ceremonies and other events are held throughout the nation and the world on Gandhi Jayanti. Many people sing Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram, which was Gandhi's favorite devotional song. Flowers are placed on statues of the iconic figurehead throughout the nation and many people who are working in other countries will send money to their families in India so they can buy flowers to decorate their monuments to Gandhi.

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared that this day would also be recognized as the International Day of Non-Violence. Around the world people gather to take part in multi-faith prayers, light ceremonies that promote peace and public lectures and art exhibitions on non-violence and current issues.

The humble man's wisdom is revered around the world, and his approach to social change still proves to be one of the most effective. He believed that it was best to avoid violence and seek more peaceful means of resolution and his beliefs fueled his contribution to the freedom of India from British rule.

"The only virtue I want to claim is truth and non-violence," Gandhi once said. "I lay no claim to super human powers – I want none." 

30
Aug

First Hispanic-American woman appointed as new Girl Scouts chief executive

Anna Maria Chavez was recently appointed to the seat of chief executive of the Girl Scouts of the USA, making her the first Mexican-American woman to hold the position.

Chavez currently serves as the chief executive officer of the organization's branch in Southwest Texas, and was also the deputy chief of staff to Arizona's former governor Janet Napolitano. Her accomplishments make her a fine choice for an organization that puts such emphasis on female empowerment, and her cultural heritage teaches girls that they are capable of anything, regardless of their race or gender.

"Anna Maria is the right person at the right time for our organization," said Connie Lindsey, the national president of the Girl Scouts of the USA. "She has a tremendous track record, and her visionary leadership is going to be invaluable as we work to fulfill our mission to be the premiere leadership experience for girls in ways that are relevant, engaging and meaningful."

Girl Scouts teaches values such as honesty, fairness, sisterhood, confidence and citizenship. It also teaches girls about the world and how they can help to make a difference. The organization is one of 145 different groups from many different countries that belong to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which encourages international friendship and helps girls learn about other people and cultures around the world.

People who are working in foreign countries send money home so their daughters and female relatives can participate in their own local organizations' events and trips.

29
Aug

Heritage Day gives South Africans the chance to celebrate the diverse culture of their land

Every year, on September 24, the people of South Africa celebrate Heritage Day. The national holiday recognizes the diverse cultures and history of its people, and the month of September has also become known as Heritage Month. A whole month dedicated to the rich history of the nation allows for ample time to cover all of the different cultures that are found in South Africa. This year, the theme of the holiday is "Celebrating the Heroes and Heroines of the Liberation Struggle in South Africa."

The theme, according to the South African Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), will not only teach younger generations of the struggles their nation faced not too long ago, but it will help to propel the country forward. The DAC essentially believes that improving the future depends heavily on educating today's youth about the past, and that this year's theme could close the generational gap. The events that will take place to pay tribute to South Africa's struggle include dance, songs, poetry, oral history narrations and visits to famous sites of the liberation struggle.

"When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation," former President Nelson Mandela said in a speech during Heritage Day in 1996, according to the South African government information website. "We did so knowing that the struggles against injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity – they are part of our culture."

On eve of the holiday, the graves of national liberation heroes and heroines in Mpumalanga and other provinces will be cleaned. Wreaths will then be laid at the grave sites to honor those who gave their lives to the struggle for freedom. The following day, a formal program will be held in Mpumalanga, featuring a keynote speech by President Jacob Zuma.

Heritage Day doubles as National Braai Day, which gives friends and families the opportunity to spend the day together, eating and enjoying one another's company, according to the BBC News. People who are working outside the country will send money to South Africa to help their families pay for the food on National Braai Day.

25
Aug

Young girl is honored by Filipino government for saving the flag during typhoon

Jalena Arcos Lelis recently became the first Filipino child to be honored by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). The governmental branch that promotes and preserves Filipino culture and heritage recognized Janela's brave effort to rescue the national flag from floodwaters that swept through her hometown of Albay during the Juaning typhoon, according to the Inquirer Global Nation.

She was given a plaque, a Philippine flag pin to wear as a reminder of her courageous act, a new national flag of her own and P20,000 in cash. The president of the Pinoy Power Coalition of Volunteers, Dr. Ofelia Samar-Sy, told the Philippine Information Agency that the organization purchased food, supplies and clothing for Janela and her family, to help them recover in the aftermath of the typhoon.

Many Filipino people who are working abroad will also send remittance to their families and friends to help them recover from the damages incurred during the storms.

NHCP executive director Ludovico Badoy called 12-year-old Janela's deed a "selfless act of courage, reflective of her love for country and a constant reverence to the national symbol," the news source reports.

The young girl braved rushing floodwaters that were at chest-level to retrieve the flag, later telling reporters that she was taught to respect it and to never let it get dirty. Janela also said she was motivated by her brother Kuya Edcel, a 19-year-old color officer of the Citizen's Army Training in Manilao National High School – fearing he would be in trouble if anything happened to it.

"To the 12-year-old girl who saved our Philippine flag, certainly that's a very commendable act," Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told the Manila Bulletin. "It's an indication of something greater that resides on the person."

The Philippine Information Agency reports that many people are reaching out to help Janela and her family in their time of need. Philanthropist Mariel Tolentino promised to give the family P200 every day for at least a year to help them get back on their feet and recover from the typhoon's damage.

People around the world will send money to the Philippines to help others who were affected by the storm.

22
Aug

Bubble and squeak: A British breakfast favorite

Bubble and squeak is an English dish that is traditionally served with breakfast, and was popularized during the Second World War. The dish consists of leftover vegetables and potatoes all mixed together and reheated in a frying pan, which was a great way to help the war effort and make rations last longer. It gets its name from the bubbling and squeaking sounds it makes as it is cooked.

The earliest known recipe for bubble and squeak is found in the Maria Rundell cookbook from 1808. The recipe book itself was the most popular of its time, and sold more than half a million copies in the U.K. and America, according to The Guardian.

Bubble and squeak's major ingredients are potatoes and cabbage, but the dish often includes other veggies – such as Brussels sprouts, peas, carrots – and chopped meat has become a common ingredient, although Maria Rundell version calls for it to be served over "raredone beef, lightly fried."

This dish is easy enough to prepare, as long as there are some leftover vegetables available, and many people who are working in other countries can make this meal to quell homesickness. Jamie Oliver, a Food Network chef, recommends that the recipe should be a bit more than half potatoes. The dish is simple, especially since the ingredients will likely already be cooked.

If you are starting from scratch, you will need to cook the potatoes and vegetables together in a pan for about 20 minutes. Then, heat some olive oil in a pan and throw the mixture right in there. Mash everything together so it forms a thick, veggie-pancake. Flip it in pieces and mash it back together until the whole thing is crispy and golden brown.

You can add in chunks of sausage, bacon or whatever meat you desire or you can serve them separately. Making this dish with leftovers can also be a good way for Brits to save some extra cash to wire money to their families back home.

A variation of the dish was even served at the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in April. The bubble and squeak was wrapped around a confit shoulder of lamb to make it more elegant and royal wedding-appropriate.

It was only one of many canapes offered to guests of the wedding, according to CNN. Other bite-sized treats included Cornish crab salad on lemon blini, pressed duck terrine with fruit chutney, miniature watercress and asparagus tarts, chocolate ganache truffles, miniature Yorkshire puddings with roast fillets of beef and horseradish mousse and smoked haddock fishcakes with pea guacamole.

16
Aug

Flower stew is perfect comfort food for South Africans

When most people think of edible flowers, they tend to picture using them as garnishes or to top salads, but some flowers are more versatile and can be used in other dishes. In South Africa, flowers are used to make a stew called waterblommetjie bredie. When the Dutch first arrived in South Africa in the 1600s, they relied on local vegetation for the first few years, while they tried to introduce their crops to the African soil. They worked together with the indigenous Khoikhoi to develop the stew and other culturally diverse foods to bring a unique flavor to the South African menu.

Waterblommetjies means “little water flowers,” which is appropriate for flowers that grow primarily in ponds and swamps. The small white flowers are harvested between June and September, before they bloom. CookSister.com suggests that the waterblommetjies have a texture similar to artichokes, but with a more subtle flavor, similar to green beans with a hint of citrus.

They are used to make waterblommetjie bredie, a stew that combines the flowers with lamb, potatoes, onions and wild sorrel – a sour plant that is toxic in large quantities, but harmless in smaller portions. Sorrel can be difficult to find, but it can be substituted with different ingredients, such as white wine and watercress, to achieve the same flavor.

The flowers are native to South Africa’s Western Cape, but have been transplanted and grown successfully in France and the U.K. Even though you can’t find fresh waterblommetjies in these places, South African stores throughout the world generally sell canned flowers so you can cook up a tasty stew that will remind you of home if you moved away for work. You can also send money to South Africa so your loved ones can buy the ingredients to make the waterblommetjie bredie as well.

The stew is made by first browning the lamb in oil. Once that is done, you can heat up onions, garlic and spices until the onions are translucent. You also need to cook up the potatoes with some lamb or beef stock before adding everything to the casserole dish and popping it into the oven for about an hour. Traditionally, the stew was cooked in a pot over a fire, but work with what you’ve got. After the hour is up, it’s time to add the waterblommetjie and the wild sorrel or watercress. Bake the stew for another 15 minutes and it will be ready to serve over rice, mashed potatoes or whatever you desire.

15
Aug

Happy Independence Day, India

Today is the 64th anniversary of India gaining its independence from British rule, and the events are symbolized by the raising of the national flag at the Red Fort in Delhi by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. He then delivers a speech that pays tribute to the figureheads of India’s struggle for freedom, while using the opportunity to discuss the nation’s accomplishments since the previous Independence Day.

Throughout the country, similar ceremonies take place at the capital cities of Indian states, where local government leaders will raise flags at state buildings. Educational establishments carry out flag raising rituals as well. Indian people will flock to these events, and many people will wire money to their families so they can afford to attend the celebrations.

In Bangalore, young students reenact battle scenes from the freedom struggle, according to MSNBC. Family members of students who participate in these events will send money to India to help the kids pay for their costumes. Reenactments aren’t the only events that take place on this holiday – many people fly kites on Independence Day in India, filling the skies with bright colors.

Costume parties are a regularly observed tradition as well. People dress in outfits that reflect the Indian culture and heritage to get together and honor their nation.