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Marriage or not, Mariah Carey goes ahead with reality show

Fri, 2016-11-25

LOS ANGELES: Mariah Carey’s new reality show sees the larger-than-life singer trying on wedding dresses and wrestling with a decision to postpone her marriage to Australian businessman James Packer.
Nine months on, as “Mariah’s World” prepares to air in December, Carey is dodging questions about the sudden breakdown in October of her engagement to the billionaire.
Asked if the eight-part series would show what really went on to cause the split, Carey told Reuters. “Do we ever know what’s really real?... I hope we learn a lesson of being good people.”
Packer, 49, and twice-married Carey, 46, started a highly-publicized relationship in June 2015, and in January, the Australian proposed with a massive 35-carat diamond engagement ring. Last month, the engagement was suddenly off, sparking conflicting rumors about who backed out, and why.
Packer appears briefly in the first episode of “Mariah’s World,” when the couple enjoyed happier times in the spring vacationing on yachts. Carey is seen trying on a wedding dress, and debating whether to wear a tiara.
Filming started while the “We Belong Together” singer was preparing for her European tour that began in March and the first episode shows her reluctantly deciding to postpone her wedding to Packer because of her work commitments.
Carey, the world’s best-selling female singer, says she wants the show to capture “behind the scenes and the moments... when you are getting ready to go on stage and putting on a tour.”
Although the show was first promoted as showing Carey planning her wedding, it remains to be seen how much Packer will now appear.
On Wednesday, Carey told Ellen DeGeneres in an appearance on her talk show that her relationship with Packer was “kind of difficult to talk about” and described the split as “a whole friggin’ thing.”

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Cairo calling for Farah Khan’s next film?

Fri, 2016-11-25

MUMBAI: Farah Khan is a multi-talented personality who successfully wears multiple hats, as a director, choreographer, actor, producer, writer, judge and a show host.
No other filmmaker has given wings to their dancing passion the way Farah has.
Remember, last year Farah was in Cairo, Egypt to receive the Faten Hamama Award for excellence in cinema at the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF). This year too, the 38th CIFF kicked off with an opening show which paid a special tribute to Bollywood celebrities.
The photographs of B-Town talents like Shah Rukh Khan, Farah Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan were shown in a video made specially for the event.
Farah went completely nostalgic when she came to know that the organizers gave special mention to her yet again at the festival.
As per news reports, Farah was so bewitched by Cairo’s warm reception and geniality that she has discussed with her production team to shoot an important portion of her next film in Egypt. An insider revealed that she can’t wait to discuss the schedule and shooting locales with producer Shah Rukh Khan.
If rumors are to be believed the movie requires two young actresses. Farah is keen to work with Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra this time and the plot is all about the two best friends on a foreign trip. Farah has already zeroed in on 3-4 outdoor locations. Only King Khan’s approval on the film’s script is required.

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Watch your self-ie! India tops ranking for selfie deaths

Agence France Presse
Fri, 2016-11-18

NEW DELHI: Next time you’re at the Taj Mahal, find yourself standing on a precarious cliff or see an approaching train, maybe just enjoy the moment rather than trying to capture the perfect selfie.
These are just three of the ways that 76 selfie-takers in India have lost their lives, according to a study published by US-based Carnegie Mellon University and Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi.
In the quest for the coolest selfie, more people have died in India in the past two years than the total number of selfie-related deaths in the rest of the world, according to the study titled “Me, Myself and My Killfie: Characterizing and Preventing Selfie Deaths.”
Using special search techniques to trawl the Internet and social media, the researchers identified 127 confirmed selfie deaths since March 2014.
They blamed people’s desire for more “likes” and comments on social media for driving increasingly risky selfie-taking.
“(The) clicking dangerous selfies (has proved) to be so disastrous that during the year 2015 alone, there have been more deaths caused due to selfies than shark attacks all over the world,” the researchers said in a blog post.
Three students in northern India died trying to take a daring selfie in front of an oncoming train, according to the study published last week.
Another student lost his life when the cliff he was standing on for a photo cracked, sending him plunging 18 meters (60 feet) into a ravine.
A selfie-taking Japanese tourist died after he slipped down the stairs at the Taj Mahal while seven people posing for a group selfie died when the boat they were in capsized.
Pakistan took second place in the global killer-selfie rankings with nine deaths, followed by the United States with eight and Russia on six.
India’s population of 1.25 billion is nearly four times the size of the US’s and over six times the size of Pakistan, but that fails to account for the huge discrepancy between the number of fatalities.
According to the study, China with its population of 1.37 billion only had four selfie-related deaths.
The group behind the study hopes their work will raise awareness of the killer trend — and maybe encourage people to just appreciate the view.

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Chinese astronauts return to Earth after longest mission

Agence France Presse
Fri, 2016-11-18

BEIJING: China’s Shenzhou-11 spacecraft returned to Earth Friday, bringing home two astronauts from the rising power’s longest-ever orbital mission, in a milestone for its vaulting ambitions.
China’s state broadcaster CCTV showed the return capsule’s separation from the Tiangong-2 space lab 393 kilometers (244 miles) above the earth, and its descent through the atmosphere to its landing on the grassland of Inner Mongolia in the country’s north.
After it landed, ground personnel rushed to plant two flapping red flags beside the capsule while observers applauded in China’s mission control.
CCTV later showed footage of Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong being carried out of the capsule and waving as staff wrapped them in blue blankets.
The manned space program’s commander in chief Zhang Youxia announced that the mission was a “complete success.”
The men spent the 33-day mission orbiting the earth carrying out experiments including cultivating silkworms, growing lettuce, and testing brain activity.
The Tiangong-2 space lab, launched in September, is also running experiments on growing rice and thale cress.
Beijing is pouring billions into its space program in a bid to catch up with the US and Europe.
It announced in April that it aims to send a spacecraft “around 2020” to orbit Mars, then land and deploy a rover to explore the Red Planet’s surface.
In their last entry in a space diary published by the official Xinhua news agency, the astronauts wrote that they kept fit in space by doing somersaults and zero-gravity tai chi.
“At the end of a busy day, we have some free time before going to bed,” they wrote. “We take selfies to have some personal record of this unforgettable journey, or just go to the window and quietly stare at that beautiful blue planet called Earth.”
Beijing sees the military-run program as a symbol of China’s progress and a marker of its rising global stature.
The nation’s first lunar rover was launched in late 2013, and while it was beset by mechanical troubles it far outlived its expected lifespan, finally shutting down only last month.
But so far China has largely replicated activities that the US and Soviet Union pioneered decades ago.
It intends to set up its own manned space station by 2022, and eventually put one of its citizens on the surface of the moon.
In an interview earlier this week, Jing told Xinhua that “even in the wilderness of space” the astronauts could “always feel the love from our motherland.”

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’Arabs Got Talent’ is back

Fri, 2016-11-18

JEDDAH: Popular reality TV show ‘Arabs Got Talent’ (AGT) is finally back. For the first time ever, AGT will hold auditions in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from Nov. 24-26.
Lebanese singer Najwa Karam, who sits as a celebrity judge on the reality TV show’s judging panel, announced this week that Friday, Nov. 18, will mark the first day of shooting auditions for the music show’s fifth season.
The auditions round will take place in several countries across the Middle East, where contestants will have to show some real talent if they’re to impress judges Saudi comedian Nasser A-Qasabi, Egyptian comedian actor Ahmed Helmy, Lebanese Group TV Director of MBC Ali Jaber, and of course Najwa, reported Al-Bawaba.
As for the show’s hosts, Raya Abirached and Qusai
Kheder, rest assured that they too will be back alongside the judges in
The show produced by MBC was first broadcast in 2011.
It features contestants with a variety of talents, such as singing, break-dancing, comedians, magicians and rapping.

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Underground ocean found on Pluto, likely slushy with ice

Irene Klotz | Reuters
Thu, 2016-11-17

HOUSTON, United States: Scientists have found evidence that tiny, distant Pluto harbors a hidden ocean beneath the frozen surface of its heart-shaped central plain containing as much water as all of Earth’s seas.
The finding, reported on Wednesday in two research papers published in the journal Nature, adds Pluto to a growing list of worlds in the solar system beyond Earth believed to have underground oceans, some of which potentially could be habitats for life.
Pluto’s ocean, which is likely slushy with ice, lies 93 to 124 miles (150 to 200 km) beneath the dwarf planet’s icy surface and is about 62 miles (100 km) deep, planetary scientist Francis Nimmo of the University of California, Santa Cruz said in an interview.
With its ocean covered by so much ice, Pluto is not a prime candidate for life, added Massachusetts Institute of Technology planetary scientist Richard Binzel, another of the researchers. But Binzel added that “one is careful to never say the word impossible.”
Liquid water is considered one of the essential ingredients for life.
The discovery was made through an analysis of images and data collected by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which flew past Pluto and its entourage of moons in July 2015.
“It shows that nature is more creative than we are able to imagine, which is why we go and explore,” Binzel said. “We see what nature is capable of doing.”
Despite being about 40 times farther from the sun than Earth, Pluto has enough radioactive heat left over from its formation 4.6 billion years ago to keep water liquid.
“Pluto has enough rock that there’s quite a lot of heat being generated, and an ice shell a few hundred kilometers thick is quite a good insulator,” Nimmo said. “So a deep subsurface ocean is not too surprising, especially if the ocean contains ammonia, which acts like an antifreeze.”
Scientists made the discovery as they were trying to figure out why a 621-mile (1,000-km) wide impact basin known as Sputnik Planitia, which contains the curious heart-shaped region, was located in its present position near Pluto’s equator.
Computer models showed the basin likely filled with ice, which caused Pluto to roll over, cracking its crust. That could happen only if Pluto possessed a subsurface ocean, the analysis found.
New Horizons is on its way to another frozen world in the Kuiper Belt region of the solar system about 1 billion miles (1.6 billion km) past Pluto. A flyby of the object, known as 2014 MU69, is scheduled on Jan. 1, 2019.

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Bob Dylan too busy to accept Nobel prize

Agence France Presse
Wed, 2016-11-16

STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Music icon Bob Dylan will not attend the Nobel ceremony in December to accept his literature prize because he has “other commitments,” the Swedish Academy said on Wednesday.
“The Swedish Academy received a personal letter from Bob Dylan yesterday where he explained that he could not make himself available in December and leave to Stockholm to accept the Nobel prize in literature,” it said in a statement.
“He wishes that he could accept the award personally, but other commitments make it unfortunately impossible. He underlined that he feels incredibly honored by the Nobel prize,” it added.
The Swedish Academy said it “respects Bob Dylan’s decision but added it is “unusual” for a Nobel laureate not to come to Stockholm to accept the award in person.
Several other prize winners have skipped the Nobel ceremony in the past for various reasons — Doris Lessing, who was too old; Harold Pinter, because he was hospitalized, and Elfriede Jelinek, who has social phobia.
“We look forward to Bob Dylan’s Nobel lecture, which he must carry out — it is the only requirement — within six months starting from December 10, 2016,” the academy said.
The 75-year-old, whose lyrics have influenced generations of fans, is the first songwriter to win the literature prize.

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Oxford Dictionaries name ‘post-truth’ word of the year

Ruth Holmes | AFP
Wed, 2016-11-16

LONDON: The Oxford Dictionaries chose “post-truth” as their word of the year on Wednesday, saying its use had spiked because of the Brexit vote in Britain and the rise of Donald Trump in the United States.
“Post-truth has gone from being a peripheral term to being a mainstay in political commentary,” the Oxford Dictionaries said in a statement, noting that usage had increased by 2,000 percent since last year.
The publisher defined the word as “relating or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
“It’s not surprising that our choice reflects a year dominated by highly-charged political and social discourse,” said Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries.
“Fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, ‘post-truth’ as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time.
“We first saw the frequency really spike this year in June with buzz over the Brexit vote and again in July when Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination.”
The runners-up for words of the year included the British term “Brexiteer” used for anti-EU advocates.
“Alt-right” also made the shortlist, defined as an ultra-conservative grouping in the United States “characterised by a rejection of mainstream politics and the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content.”
Trump’s appointment of anti-establishment media firebrand Steve Bannon, seen as a leader of the “alt-right” movement, as his chief of staff earlier this week has proved highly controversial.
The Oxford Dictionaries said the word “post-truth” had become “overwhelmingly” associated with politics.
Charlotte Buxton, associate editor at Oxford Dictionaries, said the term “caught the public imagination” in Britain and the US, with social networks playing a key role.
“It’s tied in quite closely with the social media world now and how people are accessing their news,” she told AFP.
“I think it reflects a trend of how emotion and individual reactions are becoming more and more important.
“People are restricting their news consumption to sources that don’t claim to be neutral.”
Social media networks, in particular Facebook, have come under fire since the US election for allowing “fake news” and misinformation to be widely shared.
Google and Facebook responded to the criticism Tuesday by pledging to cut off advertising revenue to fake news sites which some claim influenced the US vote.
The term “post-truth” is “reflective of the mood of the past 12 months,” said Buxton, but it has been around for some time.
Oxford Dictionaries traced its first use to a 1992 essay by late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in The Nation magazine about the Iran-Contra scandal and the Gulf War.
“We, as a free people, have freely decided that we want to live in some post-truth world,” Tesich wrote.
“There is evidence of the phrase ‘post-truth’ being used before Tesich’s article, but apparently with the transparent meaning ‘after the truth was known’ and not with the new implication that truth itself has become irrelevant,” Oxford Dictionaries said.

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Swimmers complete 7-hour crawl across shrinking Dead Sea

Tue, 2016-11-15

EIN GEDI, Israel: A multinational group of swimmers swam seven hours through the salty, soupy waters of the Dead Sea on Tuesday in a bid to draw attention to the environmental degradation of the fabled lake.
At dawn, the 25 swimmers left on boats from Ein Gedi on the Israeli side of the Dead Sea to Wadi Mujib on the Jordanian side. Then, wearing special protective masks and snorkels, the swimmers paddled through the thick waters in what turned into a 17-kilometer (11-mile) swim from Jordan to Israel.
Swimming in the Dead Sea is unusual.
Tourists typically dip themselves from the beaches and float on the water with the help of the lake’s high salt concentration. It also draws people from around the world who believe the water’s high mineral content is beneficial for skin conditions.
The Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth at 423 meters (1,388 feet) below sea level, has shrunk significantly over recent decades, a process environmentalists blame on unsustainable water management and over-exploitation of the lake’s minerals.
“We’re here for the first ever Dead Sea swim challenge with 25 swimmers that come from all over the world to send out a clear message to save the Dead Sea, which is shrinking today at an alarming rate,” said Mira Edelstein, from the environmental group EcoPeace, one of the swim’s organizers.
Organizers say the Dead Sea’s water level has fallen more than 25 meters (80 feet) over the last three decades. The lake’s southern basin, disconnected from the shrinking northern side, has seen flooding in recent years because of heavy industrialization.
The swimmers, who hailed from Israel, the Palestinian territories and as far as New Zealand, South Africa and Denmark, wore special face masks to shield them from the briny water, which is painful to the eyes and can be deadly to ingest. The group was accompanied by support vessels with medical equipment and food.
Despite the tough conditions, only three swimmers failed to finish — two who suffered from dehydration and a third who complained of chills.
Four swimmers took breaks on the medical vessel. Palestinian lifeguard Yussuf Matari, 61, was treated with an IV as he rested in the shade of a boat’s tarp before plunging in to the waters again.
Jackie Cobell, a British long-distance swimmer, called the Dead Sea swim “historic and iconic,” before descending into the water. “This is really important because it’s disappearing fast.”
Those who neared the shoreline first waited so all could finish the race together. Speakers blared “We are the Champions,” the iconic hit by the English rock band Queen.
“I must say that I did not expect this swim to be so hard and what was really, really tough conditions is that salt. Constantly trying to get the salt out of your mask and the chafing,” said Jean Craven, a founder of “Madswimmer,” a South African charity that participates in open water swims around the world to raise money for children’s causes.
“This was a challenge, not a race,” he added. “It was really great to see the camaraderie, you know, everyone trying to bring the slowest swimmers along with them.”

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Facebook’s WhatsApp adds secure video calling amid privacy concerns

Joseph Menn | Reuters
Tue, 2016-11-15

SAN FRANCISCO, United States: One of the world’s most popular means of communication, Facebook’s WhatsApp, is adding fully encrypted video calling to its messaging app on Monday, a move that comes as privacy advocates worry about the potential for stepped-up government surveillance under a Trump administration.
WhatsApp, which boasts more than a billion users worldwide, adopted end-to-end encryption early this year, making it technically impossible for the company or government authorities to read messages or listen to calls.
The new video calling service will thus provide another means for people to communicate without fear of eavesdropping though WhatsApp does retain other data such as an individual’s list of contacts.
WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum said in an interview that video calls will be rolled out to 180 countries within hours after the feature is introduced at an event in India.
“We obviously try to be in tune with what our users want,” Koum said at the company’s unmarked Mountain View, California headquarters building. “We’re obsessed with making sure that voice and video work well even on low-end phones.”
Koum told Reuters that improvements in phone cameras, battery life and bandwidth had made the service viable for a significant proportion of WhatsApp users, even those using inexpensive smartphones.
Apple Inc. offers its FaceTime video calls to iPhone users, and Microsoft Corp’s Skype offers video calls on multiple platforms. But WhatsApp has built a massive installed base of mobile customers and has been steadily adding more features to what began as a simple chat applications.

Price of allegiance
WhatsApp has operated with some autonomy since Facebook bought it in 2014. Koum and co-founder Brian Acton, longtime Yahoo engineers who started the company in 2009, now have 200 staff, mostly engineers and customer support, up from 50 when Facebook bought it.
Koum said Facebook has allowed WhatsApp to use its servers and bandwidth around the world for voice and now video. That support will help spread the souped-up WhatsApp much farther and faster, he said.
But the corporate allegiance also has a price. After years of pledging that it would not share information about users with Facebook, which already has digital dossiers on its own 1.7 billion users, WhatsApp revised its privacy statement in August to say it would do exactly that. That means Facebook knows whom WhatsApp users contact and their phone numbers.
Some users complained, but Koum said that he had not seen a shift in behavior.
“In terms of security and privacy, what people care about the most is the privacy of their messages,” he said.
The video service is well integrated and adds a few twists. Users can move around the thumbnail video showing what their correspondent sees and flick a video call in progress to the side to minimize it while checking texts or e-mail.
Koum said WhatsApp remained committed to security after the US election of Donald Trump as president last week heightened fears of increased surveillance.
Trump, along with some leading congressional Republicans and FBI Director James Comey, has advocated requiring tech companies to turn over customer information in many circumstances, a position which, if put into law, could require companies including WhatsApp to completely redesign their services.
Other countries including China and the United Kingdom also take a dim view of encryption.
But Koum said he not see a major threat to his service, noting that diplomats and officials use WhatsApp in many countries.
“It would be like them shooting themselves in the foot.”

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