Monday, 4 February 2013

Psy to perform at Malaysia ruling coalition party

South Korea's Psy will perform his famous "Gangnam Style" dance at an event organised by Malaysia's ruling coalition, an official said Sunday as the bloc tries to attract young voters ahead of polls.

Psy will perform the hit, which made history as the most-watched video on YouTube, at a Chinese New Year party on the northern island of Penang on February 11, said Loh Hock Hun from the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).

The organisers hope to attract some 60,000 people including Prime Minister Najib Razak, Loh said. He could not say how much the concert, to be staged by the Barisan Nasional coalition of which the MCA is part, would cost.

Some 25 percent of Malaysia's 29 million people are ethnic Chinese and celebrate the lunar new year.

Najib, who must face tough elections by June at the latest, hopes to improve on his coalition's worst ever poll performance in 2008. Those aged below 40 make up 40 percent of the electorate.

In 2008, the coalition lost its traditional two-thirds parliament majority and control over five states including Penang, to a resurgent opposition amid voter complaints that Barisan Nasional leaders seemed too aloof and corrupt.

South Korean pop music is popular in Malaysia with a recent show, the annual Golden Disk Awards featuring performances by Super Junior and other acts, drawing thousands of fans.

Psy, who is slated to perform in Brazil's carnival celebrations next week, is also expected to take the stage in Malaysia in 
March for a music show at the Sepang International Circuit racetrack.

Psy made Internet history last December when "Gangnam Style" -- featuring his signature horse-riding dance -- clocked more than one billion views on YouTube.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Myanmar to hold fresh talks with Kachin rebels

Myanmar will hold another round of talks with Kachin rebels on Monday in a bid to end a conflict raging in the country's far north, a federation of ethnic minority groups said.

Myanmar to hold fresh talks with Kachin rebels
Myanmar to hold fresh talks with Kachin rebels

The two sides will attend an "emergency meeting" in the Chinese border town of Ruili to seek a breakthrough in the bloody conflict, Khun Okker, a spokesman for the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), said on Sunday.

"China arranged it," he told AFP. "They (China) might want to give their views to both the KIA (Kachin Independence Army) and the Myanmar government."

But he said the rebels "have not had much time to prepare" and the problem was unlikely to be resolved without political dialogue at additional meetings in the future including the whole UNFC, formed by about a dozen ethnic groups.

There was no comment from the government, and it was unclear which officials would attend Monday's meeting.

Almost a dozen rounds of talks between Myanmar's reformist government and the Kachin since the conflict flared up again in 2011 have failed to make progress.

The KIA, who are fighting for greater autonomy, say any negotiations should also address their demands for more political rights.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Kachin state since June 2011, when a 17-year ceasefire between the government and the Kachin broke down.

The government last month announced a unilateral ceasefire with the KIA but the fighting continued, with the government army capturing a key outpost as it edged closer to the rebels' headquarters near the Chinese border.

Beijing, which fears an influx of refugees from the violence-torn region, has urged an end to the fighting.

Chinese state-run media has reported that China's Yunnan province is planning camps for 10,000 people in case large numbers flee across the frontier.

"China arranged to hold this meeting. China doesn't want very serious fighting along its border," Aung Kyaw Zaw, an analyst with close ties to the KIA, said of Monday's planned talks.

"More than 30,000 Myanmar troops are here in Kachin State. The KIA is resisting them with about 8,000 troops," he said. "Kachin State is ruined because of the long fighting."

Set 'em up! It's national cocktail day in Peru

Peruvians on Saturday downed their national cocktail, the pisco sour, with a nationwide celebration of sipping and dancing -- even opening a museum in its honor.

Set 'em up! It's national cocktail day in Peru
Set 'em up! It's national cocktail day in Peru

The cocktail, made from a grape-based liquor called pisco, has been made in Peru since the 16th century. Added to it are a squirt or two of fresh lemon juice, sugar, egg white and crushed ice.

Historians say it was devised in 1922 in Lima by an ex-pat American bar owner whose last name was Morris.

On Saturday, all over Lima and elsewhere street stands manned by expert mixers served up pisco sours. Typical 

Peruvian dishes were served, and people sang and danced.

The drinks are practically sacred here. In 2003, then president Alejandro Toledo declared that the first Saturday in 

February would from then on be Pisco Sour Day.

And it was mandated that the pisco sour would replace wine and champagne for official toasts at the presidential palace and celebrations at ministries and embassies.

A pisco sour museum was inaugurated Saturday in the city of Paracas, in the southern region of, well, Pisco.

Internet wonders which monkey Iran sent into space

Iran's announcement that it had successfully sent a monkey into space stirred questions on the Internet on Saturday, with people pointing to differences between official images of the primate before takeoff and after landing.

Internet wonders which monkey Iran sent into space
Internet wonders which monkey Iran sent into space

On January 28, official Iranian media published pictures of a monkey named Pishgam (Pioneer) prior to the launch. The animal had light grey fur and a red mole above its right eye.

But later, the ISNA news agency released photos taken during presenting the monkey to the press after its landing which showed a darker fur and no mole.

These differences have been pointed out by Western media, which have questioned the success of the monkey space mission. A previous attempt to send a primate into space failed in 2011.

On Facebook, a comment underneath the monkey's pictures reads: the monkey "went into space and met a doctor who removed its mole," an ironic reference to some Iranians passion for cosmetic surgery.

Iranian authorities did not directly responded to these questions on Saturday night.

Two websites close to the regime, Rajanews and Nasimonline, have said without citing sources that the monkey images available to the media before the launch were "archive" images of the doomed 2011 launch.

Instead, the monkey presented to the press after the sub-orbital flight was the one that successfully completed the mission.

Neither Iranian site gave any explanation why the reputed archive pictures were used by the media.

Blood on the tracks at Malaysia's first 'zombie run'

Malaysians smeared with fake blood roamed a jungle range on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday in the Southeast Asian's country's first "zombie run".

Blood on the tracks at Malaysia's first 'zombie run'
Blood on the tracks at Malaysia's first 'zombie run'

One woman had an arrow in her hair made to look as if had pierced her skull while many others were wearing blood-smeared and torn t-shirts.

Organisers for the Zombie Run Malaysia 2013 said on their Facebook page that 150 "zombies" -- volunteers with ghoulish make-up and costumes -- were expected to chase 1,000 runners past broken walls and abandoned huts in the jungle patch.

The zombies' goal is to take away runners' tags before they reach the finishing line in the one-day event.

Zombie runs are already popular in the United States and other countries.

Horror films have become increasingly popular in Malaysia in recent years after effectively being banned in the Muslim-majority country for three decades for being seen as in violation of Islamic teachings.

Changes in the past decade have seen rules relaxed and in 2011 the genre made up more than a third of domestic films.

Meet India's 'Man with the Golden Shirt'

India is a country known for its love of gold, but for one businessman a ring or chain was not enough.

Meet India's 'Man with the Golden Shirt'
Meet India's 'Man with the Golden Shirt'

Datta Phuge is now the proud owner of a golden shirt worth 12.7 million rupees (240,000 dollars), made up of 14,000 pieces of 22-carat gold and put together by 15 craftsmen over 16 days.

"Gold has always been my passion since a young age. I've always worn gold as jewellery in the form of bracelets, rings, 
chains," he told AFP.

The 42-year-old, who lives in the Pune district of western Maharashtra state, hatched the plan late last year with a local jeweller friend.

"We were thinking, is there something different we could do with gold? What has no one done before?" he said.
At 3.32 kilograms (7.3 pounds), the end product is so hefty Phuge said he had asked Guinness World Record to recognise his shirt as being the heaviest.

He only wears it for special occasions, along with numerous flashy gold accessories. The rest of the time the shirt is locked up at home.

His fashion choice may sound ostentatious in a country where an estimated 42 percent of children under five are malnourished, but Phuge is adamant that "it is my property, it does not matter what other people think or say".

He seems delighted that the shirt, with its six Swarovski crystals for buttons and matching gold belt, has brought him his 15 minutes of fame.

Phuge, a grandfather who runs a finance company, also says he is a keen social worker and harbours ambitions to go into politics.

Showy displays of gold have become something of a trend in the area, started by late local politician Ramesh Wanjale who became known as the "gold man" around Pune -- a title Phuge seems keen to inherit.

"Everybody knows me as the 'gold man' in the whole region. Other rich people spend one crore (10 million rupees) to buy Audis or Mercedes, to buy what they like. What crime have I done? I just love gold," he said.

India is the world's biggest consumer of gold, with purchases an essential part of religious festivals and weddings.

But faced with a rising import bill, the government has sought to discourage buying by raising import duty by 50 percent.

Indians bought 933.4 tonnes of gold in 2011, the last year for which complete data is available, according to the World Gold Council.

SKorea's star Psy to perform at Brazil Carnival

South Korea's "Gangnam Style" star Psy will take part in carnival celebrations in Rio and Salvador next week, according to the sponsors.

SKorea's star Psy to perform at Brazil Carnival
SKorea's star Psy to perform at Brazil Carnival

The rapper, whose hit song made history as the most-watched video on YouTube, will perform jointly with Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte next Friday in the northeastern city of Salvador, the Gilette company said.

The week-long Salvador Carnival, often dubbed the biggest street party in the world, attracts two million people annually.

The next day, Psy will take part in the world-famous Rio Carnival, Gilette said without giving further details.

Psy, whose real name is Park Jae-Sang, made Internet history last December when "Gangnam Style" -- featuring his signature horse-riding dance -- clocked more than one billion views on YouTube.

The 35-year-old quirky singer won adulation in his homeland for the global hit and has been awarded one of South Korea's highest cultural honors, the Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Vienna museum to welcome art buffs in the buff

Vienna's Leopold Museum said Friday that visitors are welcome to strip off at a special nudist night later this month and admire its popular "Nude Men" exhibition as nature intended.

Vienna museum to welcome art buffs in the buff

Vienna museum to welcome art buffs in the buff

"As there were several requests from nudist associations we decided to give this opportunity to all lovers of the Freikoerperkultur, the Free Body Culture," spokesman Klaus Pokorny told AFP.

"Our museum will be a clothes-free zone for one evening" on February 18, he said by email. "Nudists, naturists are welcome!"

The Leopold recently extended its "Nude Men" exhibition to run until March 4 after it proved to be a major hit, helping visitor numbers at the museum rise by nearly a fifth in 2012.

With interest in nudes in art usually in the female form, what the Leopold calls its "long overdue" exhibition focuses instead of artistic depictions of naked men from 1800 to the present.

Google reaches deal with French news websites

Google resolved a compensation fight with French news publishers on Friday that sees the US Internet search giant setting up a 60 million euro fund to help France's media adapt to the digital age.

Google reaches deal with French news websites

"There's been a global event ... the conclusion of a deal between Google and a news media grouping that was able to unite to negotiate," France's President Francois Hollande said as French press representatives signed the deal with Google chairman Eric Schmidt at the presidential palace.

"France is proud to have reached this agreement with Google, the first of its kind in the world," he added.
The deal follows two months of mediation with French news publishers unhappy their websites were getting none of the advertising revenue Google earned from sending search clients to their news content.

"The decisions were made directly with Google's board and validated by Google chief executive Larry Page and Eric Schmidt," French government negotiator Marc Schwartz told Le Figaro website.
French press bosses and Google executives had been meeting several times a week since December in an effort to avoid a deadlock.

Google will set up a 60 million euro ($82 mn) fund to help French media develop online projects, the French president's office said.
The president's office said the fund "will help the news press transition to the digital world."
Schmidt said on his Google blog: "A healthy news industry is important for Google and our partners, and it is essential to a free society."

A Google executive told AFP the deal was intended to help French news media increase online revenue and that the fund would finance "promising initiatives".
The news websites had wanted Google to share revenue earned from linking to their content, but the California-based search engine had said such a practice would "threaten (Google's) very existence".
While French news websites won't tap into Google's advertising revenue stream, the second part of the agreement will see the US company help them generate their own.

Schmidt said "Google will deepen our partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenues using our advertising technology."

A similar deal had been reached in Belgium after a six year battle between Google and Belgian editors.
Editors in several other European countries, including Germany and Italy, have also complained much needed revenue is being unfairly syphoned off by Google.
In Germany the government has drafted a law forcing Google to pay commissions for linking to news content, but it has yet to pass parliament.

If no settlement had been reached the French government had threatened to introduce legislation, while Google warned it could retaliate by no longer indexing content from French news websites.

In Brazil three top news websites pulled their content from Google's news search engine in 2011 and said traffic to their websites was largely unaffected.

Italy tax authority denies Maradona pardon

ROME (Reuters) – Diego Maradona has not been pardoned over tax debts, the Italian revenue agency said on Friday, denying an earlier announcement by the football great’s lawyer that his tax bill had been cleared.
"The central tax commission has not cancelled, or declared null, or altered the debt that Mr. Diego Maradona has with the Italian tax authorities," an agency statement said.

 Argentine former football star Diego Maradona shouts during the Davis Cup World Group tennis match between Juan Monaco of Argentina and Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic in Buenos Aires September 14, 2012. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian
Argentine former football star Diego Maradona shouts during the Davis Cup World Group tennis match between Juan Monaco of Argentina and Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic in Buenos Aires September 14, 2012. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

Earlier on Friday Maradona’s lawyer Angelo Pisani told Italian television the tax body had cleared his client of a tax bill of almost 40 million euros (34.2 million pounds), of which 36 million was interest built up since 1984, when Maradona joined Serie A club Napoli.
"There is a sentence from the central commission… that confirms the annulment of the fiscal scrutiny against Maradona," Pisani said.
"Diego Maradona can return to Italy a free man. He is free from every debt because he was never a tax evader. He said he will return to Naples to say hello to the city, the Neapolitans and hopefully the football too."
Considered among the greatest football players ever, Maradona is still Napoli’s all-time top scorer and is considered a hero for leading the club to the Serie A title in 1987 and 1990.
He also led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup and captained the team in the 1990 tournament, when they lost to West Germany in the final in Italy.
Italian authorities have long pursued the 52-year-old, seizing diamond earrings worth 4,000 euros when he visited a weight loss clinic in northern Italy in 2009.
When Maradona came to Naples for a benefit match in 2006, he was mobbed by supporters but financial police stripped him of two Rolex watches worth 10,000 euros each to help pay off the bill.
The previous year his payment for appearing on TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars’ was confiscated and in 2001 he was met by 20 police officers as he got off a plane in Rome.
Pisani said Napoli and the club’s former duo Alemao and Careca of Brazil were also cleared of scrutiny over their tax affairs.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Football- Real suffer most racist abuse, Callejon says

MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid players have suffered more racist abuse than those from other clubs, midfielder Jose Callejon said on Friday after Barcelona’s Brazilian fullback Daniel Alves complained of monkey chants in Wednesday’s King’s Cup semi-final at the Bernabeu.
Alves said on Thursday Spain was a "lost war" when it came to tackling racism and called for stiffer punishments for clubs whose fans abused opposition players.
"The only club that has suffered a lot of insults throughout its history is Real Madrid," Callejon told a news conference previewing Saturday’s La Liga match at Granada when asked about the Alves remarks.
"We always go to play in very difficult stadiums and there have been players, and right now there are players, who are being insulted for this issue (racism)," he added.
"It’s an issue you can’t control which also happens in Spain and in other countries. I think it’s a bit unfortunate."
A Reuters reporter at the Bernabeu on Wednesday confirmed monkey chants had been directed several times at Alves by a significant section of the Real fans.
The referee did not mention them in his match report.
There have been several high-profile incidents of racist abuse in European soccer in recent weeks despite efforts by the governing body UEFA to stamp it out.
AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng led his team off the pitch during a friendly at Italian lower division side Pro Patria last month in protest at chanting by the home fans and the game was abandoned.
"We saw the racist insults directed at Boateng in Italy and it’s a worrying issue," Callejon said.
"It is not pleasing that these insults are made and let’s see if they will stop once and for all."
Callejon also confirmed that there had been an altercation between assistant Real coach Aitor Karanka and Barca forward Lionel Messi after Wednesday’s semi-final first leg, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Media reports which said Messi called Karanka "Mourinho’s puppet" were correct, Callejon added.
A former Real player, Karanka often stands in for coach Jose Mourinho at news conferences.
"I saw what happened with Aitor because I was behind him," Callejon said.
"I think that sometimes the ‘good ones’ are not so good and the ‘bad ones’ not always so bad."
Real, whose title defence has faltered leaving them 15 points behind leaders Barca, can close to within a point of second-placed Atletico Madrid with a win at Granada (2100 GMT).
Barca play at Valencia (1800) and Atletico host Real Betis on Sunday (2000).

Dry weather thwarts police operation to revisit river where William Yau was found

SUBANG JAYA: Attempts to revisit the river along which six-year-old William Yau's body is thought to have floated to Port Klang have been unsuccessful due to the current hot weather.
A river operation by the police was cancelled after its levels were too low, caused by the hot weather this past week.

Subang Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Yahaya Ramli said his men were unable to launch their boats into the river as the water had receded too far from its banks.
"We wanted to explore the entry points along the river through which William's body could have entered and floated downstream," said Yahaya when met Friday.
"There are two entry points into the river in Kg Bukit Lanchong. We want to see where he could have fallen in or been dumped into the river. Even his parents' house is quite close to a river - within one kilometre," he added.

Kg Bukit Lanchong is the nearest spot to the Klang river from Putra Heights where William had disappeared on Jan 16.
It is located some three kilometres from the electrical store where he was last seen by his family.
Yahaya said there were still many unanswered questions, adding that how William died was still a "mystery".
He also said he had received initial statements from William's post-mortem and was expecting a written report next week.

My First Article For All

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