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Is it true that there are Sharia law zones in China?

EDIT: My answer is getting very long so I made an index for you guys, in case you want to skip through some of the sections to the next.On ShariaOn SecularismOn CaesaropapismOn the Struggle Between the Association and AministrationOn Political ConcessionsOn CensorshipOn Saudi ArabiaOn East Turkestan Independence MovementOn DiscriminationOn ReformOn Status QuoPlease understand that I must go anonymous for fear of my own safety.1. On ShariaUnfortunately, it is true as Ricky Zhang has already explained. But Sharia is not just enforced in Linxia, it is also present in Shadian (沙甸) and many parts of Ningxia (宁夏). The Muslim population is growing rapidly in China, to the point that it is not far stretched to say there is at least one Sharia zone in each major Chinese city.First, let’s talk about Shadian Town in Gejiu City, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province.It has been known for a while that local officials in Shadian have openly misused public funds to renovate government buildings in Islamic styles. Even more ridiculous is the fact that public funds would occasionally end up in the building of local mosques! Shadian is known as the “Islamic State of China” for a reason, and its infamous “local rules.”Above shows a government building that has been renovated for religious reasons without authorization.Many schools in Shadian follow Islamic practises. Although not every school in Shadian have this culture, there is a strong social pressure on individuals to adopt “local customs” due to the Muslim majority in the region.In 2015, Hong Kong news agency Ming Pao published the Authority of Religion Over the State (教權大過政權), an article about two undercover reporters who investigated the situation in Shadian.[1]It was also reported, by another news agency in China, that the Muslim communities in Shadian have been building their own private schools and enrolling their children under a strict religious environment, in which religious studies have completely replaced the basics of scientific knowledge. However, skipping the compulsory education system for religious school at such a young age is actually unconstitutional in China.Article 36. Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.Sharia Patrols in Shadian even barged into civilian homes and confiscated their alcoholic drinks so that they could destroy them, thereby enforcing Sharia. It is not uncommon to find news like this in other Muslim areas in China, such as Ningxia. And YES, you read that right, Sharia Patrol is actually happening in China.Even in Beijing, Sharia practices are popping up everywhere. In this supermarket, the name for pork in Chinese was changed to Da Rou (“Big Meat” or “General Meat”) because Muslims are sensitive to the word “Pork” which is “Zhu Rou” in Chinese. Imagine English speakers having to make up a completely new word for pork because the name has become politically incorrect.Muslims in Beijing even built their own enclaves in which Sharia is enforced. The sign in this picture saysMuslim Area 回民小区If you carry non-halal food 非清真食品Please do not bring them inside 请勿带入小区It is hard to believe that the sign is explicitly calling this neighborhood a Muslim area just because the Muslim community is concentrated in the area. This has absolutely no legal basis in ChinaPriority Window for Muslim Teachers & Students 清真师生优先窗口If that wasn’t bad enough, the second sign openly gives priority to Muslims, which is not only highly offensive but also extremely discriminatory.I don’t have anything against Muslims. No, not at all. But they are crossing the line by bringing Sharia law to non-Muslims and establishing Muslim privilege through open discrimination of non-Muslim. This is the very definition of “religious discrimination,” and it is unacceptable as I have said before in my answer to How do ethnic Han Chinese view the muslim development in China?Muslims can practice their religion, because it is their freedom.It is their right to do so, but many Chinese Muslims are unaware that they are overstepping their boundaries. Chinese Muslims *imposing* their religion and blurring the distinction between the state and religion are few of the many examples. Practice your religion if you want, but remember there is a separation between the state and religion! China is a secular state and not an Islamic country.2. On Secularism (政教分离)Whenever these things happen, I can’t help but become envious of secularism in the West, for the Soviet model of religion control has proven to be disastrous in China. Because, believe it or not, secularism is not a part of the constitution of China.In China, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (国家宗教事务局), which falls under the jurisdiction of the State Council, exercises control over religious appointments within the country, or at least that’s what it was supposed to do. The CCP originally wrote off secularism in exchange for a stronger grip on religious organizations, so that the State could directly intervene and keep powerful groups in check. However, the policy has backfired since China opened up its economy.In recent year there is a worrying trend that the Administration has become over-accommodating to the point of taking sides with some religious groups against others. Bigger, more power organizations that better “support” the Communist Party sometimes even exploit their relationship with the government to bully smaller, less powerful groups.Favortism has become a serious issue and factionism has divided consensus and instilled conflicts. The inclusion of religious members into the government also invited infiltration from organizations that seek to gain political influence from within. Many religious leaders have “built relationship” (codeword for “mutual benefits,” another codeword for “corruption”) with Party members, whose connection has sometimes led to the misuse of public funds for religious institutions. As time went by, some religious organizations under the Administration have gained considerable political influence, enough to affect decision-making on the higher level. Now, you see why Sharia Patrols and religious privilege go unpunished in this country.The constitution of the People’s Republic of China was designed to keep religion in check through the Administration. But instead the Administration itself has become a “social club” in which religious leaders gather to build guanxi with Chinese officials.Perhaps the People’s Republic of China would have been better off had it embraced secularism instead of half-ass religion control copied from the Soviets, for control over religion goes both ways in that the “Church” (any religious establishment) could equally have access to political power through the building of connections. As the old saying goes, “you can’t touch someone without being touched.”And as we have now seen, connections which breed influence have given form to a grotesque power. Sadly, the power which rightfully belongs to the people has ended up in the grip of religion.3. On Caesaropapism (政教合一)Western classification of the People’s Republic of China as a “secular government” is evidence that the West does not understand China. The presumption that China is secular, because the Chinese Communist Party is atheist, is founded on grossly simplified observations.China is neither fully secularist nor theocratic, for she is closer to the definition of a caesaropapist state if anything. Though some foreign analysts have pointed this out, few have realized that China practices a rather unusual form of caesaropapism.China has laws that are based on the idea of secularism, but no mention of secularism anywhere.China has laws that limit the influence of religion in the public, but established no clear boundary between the State and Church, thereby allowing state intervention in religion and vice versa.But the most defining characteristic which makes China a caesaropapist state is her control of religion through the Administration. The State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 (国家宗教事务局令第5号) is an order from the Administration that controls the Reincarnation in Buddhism, hence the official name of it is actually “Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas” (藏传佛教活佛转世管理办法). Some of you may have already of the news, that China controls the reincarnation of Dalai Lama. This could happen not because China is a secular government, but because she is a caesaropapist state—state interventionism is what differntiates a secular state from a caesaropapist one.What has this even got to do with what I’m talking about?Because the Islamic Association of China (中国伊斯兰教协会) is a national religious organization for Muslims run by the state of China.Beijing - Islamic Association4. On the Struggle Between the Association and AdministrationThe Islamic Association is an association in name only and is very much a part of the Chinese government. Originally installed as a mean to control extremism in Islam, the lack of separation of Church and State has exposed the Chinese government to religious infiltration from the Association.As the Islamic Association established its presence in the Chinese Muslim population, it has grown powerful enough to go on par with the Administration above it. Unbeknownst to outsiders, there is an ongoing power struggle between the Administration and Association.The Association has gained tremendous influence over the Muslim population in China.The Administration makes concession to appease the Islamic Association, in exchange for cooperation in countering extremism.Political concessions have allowed some Muslims to exploit the system (e.g. religious privilege) and expand their influence (e.g. religious schools).Moderate Muslims become influenced by fundamentalist Muslims. Some turn into extremists.The Administration makes more concessions, in exchange for the Association’s further cooperation.The cycle of making concession never ends. Why does a government by the people continue to pay tribute to a religious organization? This revives memory of the Song dynasty, who paid tribute to the Khitans to stop their invasion, then paid the Jurchens to fight the Khitan; then paid the Jurchens to stop their invasion; then paid the Mongols to stop the Jurchens; then paid the Mongols to stop their invasion—until there was no one else to pay and nothing better to offer. I think we all know what happened in the end. Will history repeat?5. On Political ConcessionsYou would not believe how much political concessions the CCP have made if you read from me, so I’ll just quote for you.However, the suppression of the Uyghurs has more to do with the fact that they are separatist, rather than Muslim. China banned a book titled “Xing Fengsu” (“Sexual Customs”) which insulted Islam and placed its authors under arrest in 1989 after protests in Lanzhou and Beijing by Chinese Hui Muslims, during which the Chinese police provided protection to the Hui Muslim protestors, and the Chinese government organized public burnings of the book.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25] The Chinese government assisted them and gave into their demands because Hui do not have a separatist movement, unlike the Uyghurs,[26] Hui Muslim protestors who violently rioted by vandalizing property during the protests against the book were let off by the Chinese government and went unpunished while Uyghur protestors were imprisoned.[27]In 2007, anticipating the coming “Year of the Pig” in the Chinese calendar, depictions of pigs were banned from CCTV “to avoid conflicts with ethnic minorities”.[28] This is believed to refer to China's population of 20 million Muslims (to whom pigs are considered "unclean").In response to the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting Chinese state-run media attacked Charlie Hebdo for publishing the cartoons insulting Muhammad, with the state-run Xinhua advocated limiting freedom of speech, while another state-run newspaper Global Times said the attack was “payback” for what it characterised as Western colonialism and accusing Charlie Hebdo of trying to incite a clash of civilizations.[29][30]Although religious education for children is officially forbidden by law in China, the Communist party allows Hui Muslims to violate this law and have their children educated in religion and attend Mosques while the law is enforced on Uyghurs. After secondary education is completed, China then allows Hui students who are willing to embark on religious studies under an Imam.[33] China does not enforce the law against children attending Mosques on non-Uyghurs in areas outside of Xinjiang.[34][35]Freedom of religion in China - WikipediaCaesaropapism has proven to be a self-destructive policy which led China to make one concession after another.6. On CensorshipThe Chinese government actively censors these news on the ground of “damaging ethnic harmony” (不和谐), “sabotaging national unity” (破坏民族团结), and “hurting the feelings of minorities” (伤害民族感情). The government also censors them because they want to maintain a positive image to the outside world and keep up the mask that “there is no religious or ethnic conflicts in China” (中国没有民族/宗教问题). But the government is only covering their own ears, the sound can still be heard (掩耳盗铃). And so the condition in this country continues to deteriorate.And how is this any different than literary inquisition (speech crime) under the Qing dynasty? The founding fathers of our Republic and the revolutionaries who shed blood for a better future have all died in vain.*I wish the Media outside of China could do an undercover investigation on this and expose the truth to the world, but it surely will not end well for foreign reporters if they are caught documenting these areas. But the World must know, or nothing will change.7. On Saudi Arabiaflag of Saudi ArabiaAs part of the Salafi movement, Saudi Arabia has aggressively funded mosques and exported imams all over China. But the Chinese government, or the Communist Party of China to be more specific, does not mind that at all for the sole reason of “national interests.” The geopolitical factor is that Saudi Arabia being a “strategic partner” in Middle Eastern politics is key to the success of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (一带一路).And the biggest elephant in the room which no one wants to talk about is, of course, oil exports and the gracious amount of “financial support” continuously flowing into China or the Chinese government’s hand (whichever you prefer).Saudi activities in China are well reported and well documented, such that the term Sailaifengye was borrowed to English in specific for “Salafiyah (Salafi) in China.” In fact, there is another reason why the CCP support the Salafi movement, which you can find in the history of Sailaifengye on Wikipedia.Its founder Ma Debao (1867–1977), when he undertook the Hajj, was influenced by the Salafi movement in Mecca. Upon his return to China he began to preach the Salafi ideology. The movement criticizes orthodox Islam. It opposes new movements which it believes are against the sunnah. It opposes the influence of Chinese culture on Islam. The sect was mainly found in Hezhou of Gansu province but now spread in many places notably Ningxia, Qinghai, Yunnan, Tianjing with support of Saudi religious organizations.[1][2] None of the four Sunni Madhhab (مذاهب) are followed by the Salafis.[3]Ma Debao and Ma Zhengqing promoted Salafism as the main form of Islam. But it was opposed by a number of Hui Muslim sects such as the Gedimu, Sufi Khafiya and Jahriyya, to the extent that even the fundamentalist Yihewani (Ikhwan) Chinese sect, founded by Ma Wanfu after Salafi inspiration, condemned Ma Debao and Ma Zhengqing as heretics. They were branded traitors and Wahhabi teachings were deemed as heresy by the Yihewani leaders.[2]The Kuomintang Sufi Muslim General Ma Bufang, who backed the Yihewani (Ikhwan) Muslims, persecuted the Salafis and forced them into hiding. They were not allowed to move or worship openly. The Yihewani had become secular and Chinese nationalists; they considered the Salafiyya to be "heterodox" (xie jiao) and people who followed foreigners' teachings (waidao). After the Communists took power, Salafis were allowed to worship openly again.[4]Even among Hui Salafis and Uyghur Salafis, there is little coordination or cooperation and the two take totally different political agendas, with the Hui Salafists content to carry out their own teachings and remain politically neutral.[5][6]The Communist Part of China actually persecuted the Yihewani in the past (as the Yihewani had done to the Salafis under the Nationalists) who were Chinese Muslims that became secularized, all because they supported the Nationalists (KMT). After the Yihewani Muslims had declined and lost all their influence, the CCP gave its full support to the Salafi movement, of which Wahhabism is a part of.My fellow countrymen might find this unbelievable, but like I said earlier, the CCP’s ongoing connection with the Saudis is not only well-documented but also well-reported.Chinese Salafism and the Saudi Connection (The Diplomat)In China, rise of Salafism fosters suspicion and division among Muslims (Los Angeles Times)China Doesn’t Mind Islamic Extremists (Foreign Policy)What is Salafism and should we be worried by it? (The Week Society)China and Islam (By Matthew S. Erie)8. On East Turkestan Independence MovementChina faces Islamic extremism coming from two fronts.On one hand we have Saudi Arabia, who leads the Salafi movement and exports Wahhabism. On the other hand, we have Turkey who exports Pan-Turkism and funds the terrorist organization Turkistan Islamic Party.Turkish supportTurkish connections were used by Uyghur fighters to go into Syria and the humanitarian Uyghur East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association(ETESA) which is located in Turkey sent Uyghurs into Syria, endorsed the killing of the pro-China Imam Juma Tayir, applauded attacks in China, and posted on its website content from the TIP.[84]The Ambassador of Syria to China, Imad Moustapha, has accused Turkey of facilitating the entry of Uighur jihadists into Syria.[85]The Islamist Turkish publisher "Beyaz Minare Kitap" (White Minaret Book) published a Turkish language book titled "Türkistan'dan Şehadete Hicret Hikayeleri 1" containing the biographies of Turkistan Islamic Party fighters along with praise of TIP fighters by Abdullah al-Muhaysini.[86][87]The Uyghur diaspora in the Küçükçekmece, Sefaköy and Zeytinburnu districts of Istanbul are the source of Uyghur Turkistan Islamic Party jihadists in Syria.[88][89]According to the Turkish-based Uyghur website Doğu Türkistan Bülteni (which supports the TIP), the Uyghur diaspora in Küçükçekmece and Zeytinburnu was fearful after the assassination of Uzbek imam Abdullah Bukhari and reports of Chinese-loyalist Uyghur agents sent to Istanbul to hunt down separatist Uyghurs.[90][91]Turkey 3 August 2017, officially recognizes the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement" as a terrorist organization.[92]Turkistan Islamic Party - WikipediaThe ironic thing is that the two factions, Salafi/Wahhabi extremists and Pan-Turkic/East Turkestan organizations, are hostile to each other.9. On DiscriminationOne of the commenters have pointed out the lack of anti-discrimination law in China, which allowed signs that give priority to certain race/ethnicity/social class to exist.And I fully agree.Many of my fellow countrymen do not understand what discrimination is like, or they are so used to it, that they’ve grown numb to it. Some Chinese do not care either, as long as the discrimination is not directed at them. But ignorance of discrimination goes both ways, like many things. Some Chinese might ignore or even tolerate a sign like this one below.But what they do not understand is that the same “tolerance” under the law equally allows people to discriminate Chinese. Look at this…This very sign you see is sitting on the window of a store in Beijing right now. It writes, “Chinese People Not Permitted (Employees Only).”Imagine seeing this in Paris, a gigantic paper stuck on a window saying “French People Not Permitted.” Or in Washington, “No Americans Allowed.” Not only will the public riot, but there will surely be legal action.10. On ReformEthno-religious issue in China must be treated as a state crisis, immediately, as it should be. But instead, the CCP is playing a dangerous game by trying to keep the players happy, in the false belief that the Party is still in control of the board. And so the CCP continues to ally itself with one group against another—a truly, classic Chinese strategy of “using barbarians against barbarians” (with a twist of Soviet inspiration) which, by the way, has always worked for a while until they all failed in the end, as history tells it.China must react quickly with reforms enacting anti-discrimination laws and adopting secularism in its constitution. Without anti-discrimination laws, no one under the law is truly equal. Without the separation of church (religion) and state, China is never politically stable as a country. Most importantly, without the rule of law, there is nothing to carry out at all. And if China does not change for the better in the years to come, her collapse (or the CCP’s) in the next 50 years is inevitable.11. On Status QuoI am extremely pessimistic about the future, because the CCP has already chosen the path of no return on the very day it made concessions to the Muslim fundamentalists. Should the CCP stop appeasing them now and treat them equally under the law as ordinary citizens, the fundamentalists who have so gotten used to their privilege will more than likely revolt the next day. Furthermore, what will happen to religious “departments” that are integrated with the Chinese government, such as the Islamic Association of China? The dissolution of the Association will surely free up control of a large, powerful organized group under a unified belief, transferring even more power to the uncontrollable side.And should there be any form of open rebellion against the CCP, it will shake the foundation of their legitimacy and invite questions, which is an absolutely inconceivable move on the part of the Party. In other words, both sides will try keep the Status Quo, and the CCP will not reform as long as it can get away with it.This is because the CCP (Black) and the Islamic fundamentalists (White) have played into a position of what we call a “Mutual Life” (双活) situation. If either White or Black plays on the points inside the encirclement, trying to break through, “the other will effect capture immediately and will be able (if playing properly) to form two eyes.”[2]Therefore, neither White nor Black can make the first move, unless there is a change in factor.If Black moves first, it will be domestically and internationally condemned for “religious prosecution” and risk losing political stability. An open resistance of Black cannot be allowed to happen, for it will be seen as weakness by the public, through which Black will certainly lose the people’s mandate.If White moves first, it will expose itself as the public enemy and immediately becomes vulnerable to encirclement, from which Black will receive a legitimate reason to annihilate it.The position of “Mutual Life” keeps the truce, but the peace is only temporary. Both sides bid their time as they hope for a change in factor. Perhaps one is waiting for an innocent mistake by the opponent; perhaps one is waiting for a gradual increase in power and popularity; or perhaps one is working to break through Mutual Life from a bigger picture.That is uncertain.What is certain is the future is grim.P.S. If you’ve read this far, you now know why Chinese people don’t usually criticize our government in the presence of foreigners. Because when we do, we get extremely lengthy and detailed. And the funny thing is that we might even get upset if the same thing comes from a foreigner.Footnotes[1] 《明报》伊斯兰化在中国:「国中之国」云南沙甸 教权大过政权 清真寺声望胜政府[2] List of Go terms - Wikipedia

Who would you predict will break the Messi and Ronaldo Ballon D'OR Duck? Neymar, Kane, Mbappe, Dybala, Pogba, Griezmann or someone else?

Top 10 players most likely to break the Messi-Ronaldo Ballon d’Or duopolyBy Oliver Young-Myles9th Oct 2017image:2sharesSince 2008, the Ballon d’Or award has been a straight shoot-out between two of football’s greatest ever players with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi taking it in turns to take the shiny trophy home with them.In what has become a personal battle for the ages, Messi currently leads the way for Ballon d’Or wins with five to Ronaldo’s four but the Real Madrid star has claimed three of the last four and is the odds-on favourite to win it again this year.In the years that have followed Ronaldo’s first win in 2008, eight other players have made it onto the shortlist only to inevitably finish behind one of or both of the two superstars. In fact, 2010 was the only year in which one of them wasn’t shortlisted, with Ronaldo losing out to Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, after the latter two won the World Cup with Spain.For anyone who has been shortlisted in recent years, it must have been a fairly despondent experience. Sure, being recognised as one of the three best footballers in the whole world is pretty cool, but they would have sat there in their designer suits knowing full well that 3rd place would be as good as it would get.Considering their form and influence in trophy-winning teams, Ronaldo and Messi’s duopoly of the award could well go on for a few years yet but which players are in contention to lift the next Ballon d’Or in the post-Ronaldo/Messi era? Here are ten candidates ranked by their chances of winning the thing.10. IscoTeams: Real Madrid & SpainAge: 25image:Historically at Real Madrid, team selection has been, at least in part, dictated by which player cost the most, regardless of how well they happen to be playing or how well other players in that position happen to be playing at that particular time.It is why it took Isco nearly three years to finally establish himself in the starting XI with players such as Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez shoehorned into the side at his expense. Under Zinedine Zidane, though, Isco has thrived, becoming virtually undroppable.Zidane even altered his tactics to accommodate Isco, shifting Cristiano Ronaldo into a central striker position in order to play a midfield diamond with the Spaniard at the tip. A key player for Real and Spain, Isco has as strong a claim as most to win the Ballon d’Or in the future.9. Romelu LukakuTeams: Manchester United & BelgiumAge: 24image:Long tipped for greatness after breaking into the Anderlecht team by the tender age of 16, Romelu Lukaku has proven himself as one of the most prolific strikers in the English game over the past four seasons.Last term was his best in front of goal as he struck 25 Premier League goals in an Everton side that finished 7th in the table and his form led to a move to Manchester United where he has made an impressively fast start, continuing where he left off with the Toffees.Should Lukaku maintain his current goalscoring form over the course of a couple of seasons for United he might well be regarded as one of the world’s best in his position and in an award dominated by forward players, he could, therefore, have a chance of winning it.8. Marco AsensioTeams: Real Madrid & SpainAge: 21image:Very few players force their way into first-team reckoning at Real Madrid at the age of 21 but that is exactly what Marco Asensio managed to do last year, becoming an influential squad player in Zidane’s all-conquering side.Asensio took everything in his stride last season and popped up with crucial goals at important times during Real’s season with the pinnacle coming in the Champions League final as he scored the fourth and final goal.A mesmerising player to watch due to his ability to ghost past challenges and score outrageous goals with his wand of a left foot, Asensio (alongside Isco) looks to be the man that Spain and Real will build around over the next decade.7. Harry KaneTeams: Tottenham & EnglandAge: 24image: http://www.squawka.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/GettyImages-852203332.jpgNo English player has won the Ballon d’Or since Michael Owen managed it in 2001 in what was an admittedly far from vintage year.Of the current generation of English players, Harry Kane looks to be the most likely candidate to end that wait, particularly given his outstanding form this calendar year. At the time of writing, only Lionel Messi (45) has outscored Kane (36) at club level in 2017.Not only is Kane a world-class poacher and goalscorer, he is adding new elements to his game with each season and seemingly possesses the elite mentality required to become a global superstar.6. Paul PogbaTeams: Manchester United & FranceAge: 24image:Currently sidelined through injury, Paul Pogba had made a blistering start to the season and was making his critics eat their words with a series of influential, all-action displays from central midfield.Although he is often criticised for not scoring or assisting enough goals, Pogba was doing both at the start of the campaign and if he can continue to have an influence in the final third upon his return, his claims to be the most complete midfield player in the world would be strengthened tenfold.Quite simply, there isn’t much that Pogba can’t do: he can pass the ball majestically, win the ball through tackles and interceptions, evade challenges through a moment of skill and spring from box-to-box with his pace and athleticism.5. Eden HazardTeams: Chelsea & BelgiumAge: 26image:When Eden Hazard spearheaded Chelsea’s Premier League title-win in 2015, he, alongside Neymar, was regarded as the third-best player in the world and one of the most likely candidates to break the Messi and Ronaldo duopoly.Then came the downturn when Hazard’s form fell off a cliff the following season as the Blues inexplicably tumbled from 1st to 10th. The links with Real Madrid dried up and so too did talk of Hazard as a future Ballon d’Or winner.However, last season he was back to his best as Chelsea reclaimed the title and if he avoids another year-long slump and perhaps captains Belgium’s golden generation to a first-ever trophy, he could well find himself in a string position to win the award.4. Kylian MbappeTeams: PSG & FranceAge: 18image:Remember how deadly and unstoppable the original Ronaldo was in the formative years of his career? Well, that’s exactly what Kylian Mbappe is like, an irresistible mix of pace, fearlessness, composure, technique and finishing ability.At the age of 18, Mbappe has already played a starring role in a title-winning team at Monaco last season and is on course to become the second most expensive player in the world when PSG turn his loan move permanent next season.If he isn’t already world class, he’s very close to becoming so, which is frightening given how young he is.3. Antoine GriezmannTeams: Atletico Madrid & FranceAge: 26image:Last year’s third best player according to the Ballon d’Or, Antoine Griezmann enjoyed a sensational year from a personal point of view but was a beaten finalist in both the Champions League and Euro 2016.For a player of his ability, it is criminal that the only trophies he has to show for his career so far are a Segunda Division with Real Sociedad and a Spanish Supercopa with Atletico and that lack of success might hinder his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or.Without wishing to disrespect Atletico Madrid who are a great club, Griezmann might need a move if he is to become the world’s best. There would be no shortage of takers if he were to depart.2. Paulo DybalaTeams: Juventus & ArgentinaAge: 23image:Since joining Juventus from Palermo in 2015, Paulo Dybala has developed rapidly, going from one the most highly-rated talents in Italian football to a genuine world superstar.During his two full seasons, Dybala has played a prominent role in back-to-back Serie A and Coppa Italia wins, but he has also starred in the Champions League too, scoring twice against Barcelona in the quarters to help send his side through to the final.Regarded as the long-term heir to Messi for the Argentine national team due to their similar styles of play, Dybala is certainly on the path to greatness and a future Ballon d’Or win is by no means out of the question.1. NeymarTeams: PSG & BrazilAge: 25image:Unquestionably the favourite when it comes to winning the next Ballon d’Or, Neymar finished 3rd in 2015 after playing a key role in Barcelona’s treble win that season.Neymar has the personality and unique talent to win the award and now has the stage to flourish as his team’s most important player after leaving Barcelona for PSG to escape Messi’s shadow.It’s a matter of time before Neymar breaks Pele’s decades-long goal record for Brazil and if he can inspire PSG to a first Champions League title, the Ballon d’Or will be his for the taking.

What should I do to extract the contents of a webpage to Excel with the help of R Programming languague?

Getting Data From An Online SourceAs I’m sure many statisticians do, I keep a folder of “stock code”, or template scripts that do different things. This folder is always growing and the scripts are always improving, but there are a few in there that I think are worth sharing. Some of these are templates for common analyses, while others are just reminders of how to use a couple of commands to accomplish a practical task.This post is of the latter type. I’m going to discuss fetching data from a URL.Why might one need to fetch data from a URL?You want to share your code with someone who isn’t familiar with R and you want to avoid the inevitable explanation of how to change the file path at the beginning of the file. (“Make sure you only use forward slashes!”)The data at the URL is constantly changing and you want your analysis to use the latest each time you run it.You want the code to just work when it’s run from another machine with another directory tree.You want to post a completely repeatable analysis on your blog and you don’t want it to begin with “go to http://www.blahblahblah.com, download this data, and load it into R”.Whatever your reason may be, it’s a neat trick, but it’s not one I use so often that I can just rattle off the code for it from memory. So here’s my template. I hope it can help someone else.Caveat!!!This is only for data that is in tabular form already. This is not for web scraping (i.e. extracting a table of data from a Wikipedia page.) There areentire packages devoted to that. This is for the simplest of all cases where there is a .csv file or a .txt file (or similar) at a URL and you want to read it into R directly from that URL without the intermediate step of saving it somewhere on your computer.Using data.table’s fread()I love the data.table package. I use it every day, for almost every project I do. It’s an extension of the data.frame object class in R that makes many improvements. One of those improvements is in the function fread(). It’s data.table’s answer to base R’s read.csv(). It does many things better, but here I’m only going to address its ability to read data right from the web. As a primer, its typical use on a data file residing on your computer would look something like this:library(data.table)mydat <- fread('C://Some/File/Path.csv') Reading data from a source on the web is no different. The example the package authors give in the help file (?fread) is this:library(data.table)mydat <- fread('http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/pub/datasets/csb/ch11b.dat')head(mydat)  V1 V2 V3 V4 V51: 1 307 930 36.58 02: 2 307 940 36.73 03: 3 307 950 36.93 04: 4 307 1000 37.15 05: 5 307 1010 37.23 06: 6 307 1020 37.24 0 Now if you actually navigate to that link in your browser, you won’t see anything, but a download dialog should pop up. If you navigate to the parent directory of that address, http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/pub/datasets/csb you will see some text further down the page you will see several links to data files. Each of these links launches a download dialog when clicked. To grab the URL of the data file to pass to fread(), right click the link and select “Copy link address”. Other data files online might appear in the browser instead of launching download dialog, like this one a professor of mine had us use for an assignment. fread() handles these URLs just the same.fread() makes smart decisions about how to read the data in (it detects column names and classes and so on), but the command has several arguments for specifying such things as well that you can use at your own discrimination. I find fread('filename') almost always just works, but sometimes there are reasons to be more explicit when reading data in.Using RStudioIf you’re not familiar with RStudio, you are a true R novice. If you know what it is, but don’t use it, skip ahead.In RStudio, you can click “Tools” -> “Import Dataset” -> “From Web URL” and a dialog will pop up asking you for a URL. Paste a URL into the dialog box (let’s just use the same one as before: http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/pub/datasets/csb/ch11b.dat) and click “OK”. A nice little window pops up and allows you to specify how the data should be read and what name the object should be given in R. When you click “Import”, the data is read in and some code appears in the console. What this interface does is download the data to a temporary file in a temporary folder and then read it in. The downloaded data file persists on your hard drive as long as your R session lasts, but disappears as soon as your R session ends.This is handy, but if you wanted to repeat the process, you would have to click through the menu again and supply the data URL again. This isn’t exactly “repeatable” in the Stack Overflow sense of the word.Using RCurl’s getURL()The RCurl package provides bindings to the cURL library. This is a C library for web connections. The cURL library does way more than we need for this task and frankly, I don’t understand a lot of it. I saved RCurl for last because iI usually try fread() first, and then if I get some sort of error, I resort to RCurl. Take for example the data set at this link: https://sakai.unc.edu/access/content/group/3d1eb92e-7848-4f55-90c3-7c72a54e7e43/public/data/bycatch.csv (also posted by a professor for an assignment of mine). If you try to fread() it, no dice. I have no idea what that error message means, but here’s how to get that data set in anyway.library(RCurl)myfile <- getURL('https://sakai.unc.edu/access/content/group/3d1eb92e-7848-4f55-90c3-7c72a54e7e43/public/data/bycatch.csv', ssl.verifyhost=FALSE, ssl.verifypeer=FALSE) What are the arguments ssl.verifyhost=F and ssl.verifypeer=F doing? To be quite honest, I don’t really know. But if I’m having trouble reading from a URL I try specifying these arguments and changing one or both to FALSE almost always circumvents whatever error I’m getting.This grabs the content residing at the specified URL, but doesn’t return a data.frame object. It has simply put the URL’s content into a string.class(myfile) [1] "character" So how to get this into a data.frame object? We’ll use textConnection() to open a “connection” with the string, much like you would open a connection with a file on your hard drive in order to read it. Then we’ll have read.csv() (or you could use read.table() or fread() or similar) to read the string object like a text file and create a data.frame object.mydat <- read.csv(textConnection(myfile), header=T)head(mydat)  Season Area Gear.Type Time Tows Bycatch1 1989-90 North Bottom Day 48 02 1989-90 North Bottom Night 6 03 1989-90 North Mid-Water Night 1 04 1989-90 South Bottom Day 139 05 1989-90 South Mid-Water Day 6 06 1989-90 South Bottom Night 6 0 And there you have it. The data from the URL is now in a data.frame and ready to go.Aside: read.csv() is just a vesion of read.table() with argument defaults such as sep = "," that make sense for reading .csv files.A Use CaseLet’s pretend I want to automate something having to do with weather in Chicago. Maybe it’s a knitr document that I have scheduled to re-knit every night on my server. Every time the script re-runs, it should somehow take into account recent weather in Chicago. Weather Undergroundoffers historic (and an hour ago counts as “historic”) hourly weather data for many different locations. Many of these locations are airports, which for obvious reasons, have several meteorological sensors on site. On the Weather Underground page you can select a location and a date and see hourly weather for that calendar day. At the bottom of the page, you can click “Comma Delimited File” to see the data in comma delimited format – perfect for reading into R.The URLs for such data are always of a predictable form:http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/4LetterAirportCode/year/month/day/DailyHistory.html?some_junk_specifying_formatI see that the four letter airport code for Chicago is “KMDW” and after clicking through a few of these URLs, I see the stuff after “DailyHistory.html” doesn’t change. So if I know the date, I can construct the URL where the hourly Chicago airport wether for that date can be found in .csv format.First, I define the beginning and end of the URL, which never change.baseURL <- 'http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KMDW'suffixURL <- 'DailyHistory.html?HideSpecis=1&format=1' There is opportunity here to generalize this for many locations if one simply maps the four letter codes to other locations of interest usingswitch() or similar.Then I ask the system for todays date and from it produce a string having format year/month/day.Date <- Sys.Date()datestring <- format(Date, '%Y/%m/%d') Then I piece all of these strings together to get a URL which will lead to a .csv file of today’s weather in Chicago.url2fetch <- paste(baseURL, datestring, suffixURL, sep='/') Finally I grab the content of the webpage at that URL using the RCurl method described above. I choose getURL() instead of fread() for good reason; I’ll need to do some find-and-replace to clean up some html artifacts in the data and that is more efficient to do on one big string rather than on a bunch of individual values in a data.frame.url_content <- getURL(url2fetch) Now I have the content of the page in a string and I want to read that string into a data.frame object, but every line of the data ends with an html newline (“<br />”) and a text newline (“n”). read.csv() will recognize the “n” as a signal to start a new row of the data.frame, but the “<br />” isn’t recognized and will be appended to the value in the last column of every row. So let’s take care of this before read.csv() ever gets involved. I’ll do a simple find-and-replace where I find “<br />” and replace it with an empty string (""), aka nothing. This is the regex way of find-and-delete.url_content <- gsub('<br />', '', url_content) Finally I can “read” the data into a data.frame object with the help of read.csv() and textConnection().weather_data <- read.csv(textConnection(url_content))head(weather_data)  TimeCST TemperatureF Dew.PointF Humidity Sea.Level.PressureIn1 12:22 AM 21.9 17.1 82 30.022 12:53 AM 21.9 16.0 78 30.073 1:53 AM 21.9 15.1 75 30.094 2:24 AM 21.0 14.0 74 30.045 2:39 AM 21.0 14.0 74 30.046 2:53 AM 21.0 15.1 78 30.09 VisibilityMPH Wind.Direction Wind.SpeedMPH Gust.SpeedMPH PrecipitationIn1 1.0 NNE 13.8 - 0.012 1.0 NNE 15.0 - 0.013 4.0 NNE 11.5 - 0.004 2.5 NNE 16.1 - 0.005 1.5 NNE 12.7 - 0.006 1.8 NNE 12.7 - 0.00 Events Conditions WindDirDegrees DateUTC1 Snow Snow 30 2015-02-26 06:22:002 Snow Light Snow 30 2015-02-26 06:53:003 Snow Light Snow 30 2015-02-26 07:53:004 Snow Light Snow 30 2015-02-26 08:24:005 Snow Light Snow 30 2015-02-26 08:39:006 Snow Light Snow 30 2015-02-26 08:53:00 

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