A network of worldwide Islamic finance lawyers is to launch next week. Luxembourg-based Islamic Finance Lawyers (ISFIN) said it is looking to recruit more lawyers to provide Sharia-compliant investment advice worldwide. The network aims to bring together specialist lawyers from member law firms to advise Islamic banks, sovereign funds, and private and public investors from asset-rich Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman and Bahrain. The lawyers will advise on investments in developing nations, including India, China and Brazil, and also on tax structuring in offshore territories, such as Jersey, Guernsey, British Virgin Islands and elsewhere. ISFIN chief executive Laurent Marliere said: ‘We are seeking and cherry-picking the best Islamic finance legal teams in the market. ‘High energy prices and the fact that Islamic banks have been protected from the credit crunch due to their (Sharia) ethical approach has provided Islamic investors with huge liquidities of around £55bn. This capital now needs to be invested.’ ISFIN’s initial meeting will take place on 12 May at the Islamic Finance Service Board summit in Luxembourg. Membership is restricted to one firm per jurisdiction. The network aims to have 50 members in time for the ISFIN meeting at the International Bar Association conference in Dubai in November.
KEYWORDS IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 WBA middleweight world champion Ryota Murata will have his first title defense against a fighter who people might think is a cushy opponent.But the Japanese boxer is keen to emphasize that there are no easy fights. Ryota Murata (left) and Italy’s Emanuele Blandamura pose for photos on Monday after announcing their WBA middleweight title fight on April 15. | KYODO RELATED PHOTOS GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES The 32-year-old Murata, who captured the belt in a rematch with Hassan N’Dam last October, will take on Italy’s Emanuele Blandamura at Yokohama Arena on April 15, organizers announced Monday.Blandamura is a 38-year-old veteran who has gone 27-2 in his professional career. But his next fight, against the London Olympics gold medalist, is his first world title shot.“I’ve competed in boxing for 20 years. But today’s a special day for me. It’s not even an overstatement to say this is the best day of my life,” said Blandamura, who flew all the way from his country to attend the news conference in Tokyo. “I have the utmost respect for Murata. It will be a career-defining fight for me.”The Udine native got off to a 22-bout winning streak to start his professional career, which began in 2007. That record came to an end when he fell to eventual WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders in an eighth-round technical knockout in 2014.Blandamura, who defended his European Boxing Union middleweight title last June before he subsequently relinquished it, is placed seventh in both the WBC and IBF rankings, while he is ranked 10th for the WBA.Compared to Murata, who has stood on top of the world both in amateur and professional competitions, Blandamura is a no-name presence.But Murata knows that first title defenses are difficult for any boxer, and that he will be under more pressure than Blandamura because everybody thinks he will have no problem defeating him.Some even consider this to be a stepping-stone for Murata, who is promoted by Teiken Promotions and Top Rank, to have bigger matches against notable fighters going forward.“‘This has to be a fight that will take me to the next level’ — I want people to stop saying things like that,” Murata (13-1, 10 KOs) said with a smile. “It would great if it works out that way, but unless I win this one, there’s no next one. So I will focus on pouring all my energy into this one.”Murata, meanwhile, cautions that Blandamura achieved plenty in his amateur career (33-8-3), and that such boxers might not have deadly punches but often have the skills to score points.“Sometimes it’s tough to take on an opponent like that,” Murata said, when asked about the Italian having had only five KOs in his pro career. “He’s kept winning with few KOs. That means he knows how to fight for 10 rounds, 12 rounds.”Teiken Promotions President Tsuyoshi Hamada said that it would be important for Murata to be the last man standing and it does not matter how he beats Blandamura.Murata is the second Japanese to hold a world middleweight title (after former WBA champ Shinji Takehara). But he would be the first to defend his belt. Ryota Murata, Emanuele Blandamura
This photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox shows, Melissa McCarthy, left, facing off against a knife-wielding adversary, Nargis Fakhri, in a scene from the film, “Spy.” (Larry Horricks/Twentieth Century Fox via AP) This photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox shows, Melissa McCarthy, right, receiving her new spy marching orders from boss Allison Janney, in a scene from the film, “Spy.” (Larry Horricks/Twentieth Century Fox via AP) Ridiculous questions about the funniness and bankability of women have clouded exactly what’s going on here: Nobody is a better comedic actor right now than Melissa McCarthy.She’s a combustible ball of comic fury rolled up in Chaplinesque sweetness, equally capable of profanity-laced verbal virtuosity as perfectly timed pratfalls. In her latest, the espionage comedy “Spy,” McCarthy dons a host of identities, a closet full of wigs and — in order to stay undercover but really just to switch things up — essentially changes her entire performance midway through.It’s a globe-trotting tour of McCarthy’s talent, throughout which she’s practically always kicking butt. Who was that double-O-what’s-his-face, anyway?“Spy” is the third collaboration between McCarthy and director Paul Feig, who first came together on “Bridesmaids,” and followed that up with the very solid buddy comedy “The Heat,” with Sandra Bullock. They’re soon to embark on a female-led update of “Ghostbusters,” too, which is fitting because their partnership is beginning to resemble that of Bill Murray and Ivan Reitman.Everything they’ve done, starting with the sensation of “Bridesmaids,” has been surrounded with both justified praise and tiresome overemphasis on the female-ness of their enterprise. “Spy,” too, is in many ways a great inversion of the Bond world, casting men like Jude Law as the eye candy on the side while the center of the movie is played out between women: McCarthy and Rose Byrne’s snobbish, high-couture villain. McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a contentedly desk-bound CIA operative accustom to aiding far more elegant and suave field agents like the tuxedo-clad Bradley Fine (Law, a one-time Bond candidate enjoying the brief fantasy of virtually playing the super spy). While Fine pursues supervillains at a Bulgaria casino, she’s whispering in his earpiece, monitoring above from a drone and swooning over his out-of-reach glamour.Cooper, though, is far away in a Langley headquarters cubical, where the immediate concerns are more humdrum: mouse droppings and birthday cakes. Feig lingers perhaps a tad too long in the film’s first section, but it’s to a purpose: “Spy” is in many ways a workplace comedy about the indignities a capable women must suffer in a male-dominated profession.When well-to-do arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Byrne) outs all of the CIA’s field agents, Cooper volunteers to go undercover. But the big promotion isn’t all she dreamed of: When prepared for her covert gig, she’s handed no poison-firing Rolex or a souped-up Porsche, but gadgets hidden in fungal spray and hemorrhoid wipes. Her fake identity isn’t much more exotic: Carole Jenkins, mother of four.Once in Europe, Cooper, outfitted as a tourist, is completely out of place in the “Casino Royale”-like realm of elite espionage. It’s a world that surely doubles for superficial Hollywood, where those who resemble McCarthy are seldom let under the velvet rope.At one high-priced dinner, she blurts an order of wine “with the grit of a hummus.” An agent shadowing her, Richard Ford (Jason Statham) resents her intrusion, while another, the absurdly passionate Italian agent Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz) continually gropes her.Statham nearly steals the film by playing a parody of his own grave, gonzo persona, popping up occasionally to attempt wildly unsuccessful feats of action stardom. The cast, generally, is likable, rounded out with British comedian Miranda Hart as a fellow desk agent and Bobby Cannavale as a terrorist trying to acquire a nuke.Cooper, it turns out, is surprisingly gifted in combat (the jokes, thankfully, aren’t about her bumbling inadequacy), and she steadily thrives by capitalizing on the underestimations of others. Particularly good is the interplay between McCarthy and Byrne, who deliciously oozes disgust at McCarthy’s unrefined Cooper.“Spy” is the biggest budget for Feig and the action sequences are unexpectedly robust — perhaps too much. While entirely enjoyable, it ought to be a tad funnier; the set pieces clunk it up at times. It’s almost as if Feig is actually gunning for Bond territory. But with McCarthy in tow, why not?“Spy,” a 20th Century Fox release, is rated R for “language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity. Running time: 122 minutes. Three stars out of four. This photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox shows, Melissa McCarthy, second right, infiltrating an arms dealing ring led by Rose Byrne, left, in a scene from the film, “Spy.” (Larry Horricks/Twentieth Century Fox via AP)
The unique smartphone with two displays, YotaPhone 2 has now been launched in China. The device has been priced at CNY 4,888 (roughly Rs 50,000). It is now listed on its official website of the manufacturer and is up for pre-order. Notably, the smartphone has already been launched in Europe and was also made available in the US recently. It is also expected to hit Indian shores soon.In order to ensure after sales services in China, Yota Devices and Chinese company JieLan have collaborated.The device was announced during the MWC event which took place earlier in the year. The device sports a 5-inch full HD AMOLED display as well as a 4.7-inch secondary qHD e-paper display .The smartphone runs on Android 4.4 KitKat out-of-the-box and is powered b a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor along with 2GB RAM. Other features include 32GB of non-expandable internal storage, 8MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash, 2MP front camera, and a 2,550 mAh battery, Connectivity options include 4G LTE, 3Gm Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n ac, Bluetooth v 4.0, and GPS.