Friday, May 25, 2012

Olympic Official Suspended After Ticket Row

Ukraine has suspended one of their top Olympic officials after investigating on an alleged black market selling. He was professed on selling up to a hundred tickets for the London Games on the black market. A probe by the BBC, a British broadcaster, made the claims about Volodymyr Gerashchenko, a Senior member of the Ukraine National Olympic Committee (UNOC).

Gerashchenko, who has been part of the UNOC since 1997, was told of his suspension Wednesday by president Sergey Bubka, the former pole vaulting legend. A statement on UNOC's website quoyed Bubka as saying: "As President of the Ukraine NOC, I am committed to maintaining the highest standards and ethics within the Olympic Movement. I am deeply concerned about these allegations and I have ordered an immediate investigation in Ukraine. I have briefly spoken with General Secretary Gerashchenko and informed him that he is suspended pending this investigation. I have also spoken to (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) chairman Sebastian Coe since I learnt of this news and informed him that I will ensure that we fully co-operate with any subsequent investigation that takes place in London. There has never been a situation where we have had a surplus number of tickets and those that we have received will all be distributed using official channels. London 2012 is going to be a spectacular celebration of sport and it is imperative that tickets are distributed to deserving recipients."

However, AFP reported that Bubka's deputy, Viktor Korzh, was dubious about the veracity of the BBC's claims. In their undercover operation, the BBC alleged Gerashchenko told a reporter he was willing to sell up to 100 tickets. He said: "I understand you're a dealer -- that's why for me, you are priority number one, the top, the person, in case we have extra tickets to contact you, we contact you."

When the charges were put to him, he is said to have responded that he "never planned to sell tickets in the UK," and had been making "diplomatic talk to satisfy the persistent interest of the ticket dealer."

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X-Factor: Did Britney Spears Walked Out on Set?

According to TMZ and other eye witnesses, Britney Spears - new judge of the show - walked off the set of the X-Factor during her first day on the job. The auditions are being held today in Austin, Texas.

Britney Spears walked off the set of "X-Factor" moments ago. This is according to several people in the audience. She felt unpleased and upset after a contestant butchered her song, "Hold It Against Me". Britney didn't come back immediately after the incident. Thus, four contestants auditioned in front of the remaining judges and an empty seat. A source connected with the show told us Britney was not upset over the song, she "just needed a break". The show is currently on a break so we really don't know if or when she will be back.

It has been made known that Britney has mental health issues. If she has a meltdown, Simon Cowell and his need for spectacle are to blame.

Furthermore, Mark Malkin tweeted: "Britney is back; second taping has begun. Britney Spears is back. and she just got booed for gushing over someone who didn't sing very well". Judge LA Reid on the other hand just playfully told the crowd they can't boo her.

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A Chinese Analysts' Strategic View of the Scarborough Issue

An increasingly complex entity called China
New Straight Times MY | May 25, 2012 | Farish A. Noor

For the benefit of Malaysians who are not familiar with the issues at hand, I would refer to the work done by Chinese strategic analysts like Li Mingjiang, who have written extensively -- and objectively -- on this thorny issue.

We labour under the mistaken impression that China is a homogenous country that thinks in a singular manner when addressing matters related to its claims to sovereignty, and we could not be more wrong. China is, in fact, an extremely complex country and before we jump the gun and make such bold claims we need to take into account several salient factors.

Firstly, we need to remember that over the past few decades China has experienced a steady decentralisation of power, where the central government installed in Beijing does not always have total power over local governments.

Looking at the Scarborough Shoal dispute it should be noted that the so-called aggressors are mainly Chinese fishing boats. (And not military vessels from the Peoples' Liberation Army naval forces, PLAN.) Why? The reason lies in the fact that the local governments of provinces like Guandong and Hainan have been told to increase productivity to add to the state's coffers, and in the cases of Guangdong and Hainan it also means increasing the yield of fishing.

We need to remember that the South China Sea is indeed rich with fish. It accounts for 10 per cent of the world's annual fisheries output, and it is not surprising that when the local authorities of Guangdong and Hainan are expected to exceed their annual contributions, they will invariably encourage their fishermen to fish further from Chinese coastal waters.

Note that here I am not offering an excuse for Chinese fishing boats fishing close to the Philippines, but am trying to remind us that here we see the dynamics of local, as opposed to central, politics at work.

Secondly, it is assumed that any Chinese move into the South China Sea is motivated by the search for oil and gas. This is again not true. China's oil companies seem reluctant to invest heavy capital such as offshore oil rigs in areas where there is no guarantee that their navy will protect them. Again, we need to go back to the basics: this is a fish war, and not oil or gas.

Thirdly, we need to also understand that in both the Philippines and China there is the considered opinion of state officials and the less considered opinion of the public. Sadly in both instances, the mass hysteria and anger unleashed by some (though not all politicians) has opened the way for aggressive mass nationalism in the most jingoistic of terms.

Talk of "national rights and sovereignty" may win some politicians votes, but it also inflames public anger and raises the tempers of millions. Once that has gotten out of control, both Beijing and Manila will be forced to take steps that they may regret in the future.

As an analyst who works on political violence, I am alarmed by these developments because I have encountered similar ones that got out of control. China has fought bruising battles at sea in the 1970s and 1980s with Vietnam, which took years to repair afterwards. Furthermore in the current climate of China-phobia, its policymakers recognise that it cannot afford to appear in the light of an aggressor.

A belligerent China will only send some Asean countries into the arms of the West, seeking assurance from superpowers like America. This would be unhealthy as the South China Sea has to be seen as a contested area between Southeast Asia and China, and nobody else.

Southeast Asian governments on the other hand have to realize that the simple fact is that Asean will have to deal with a China that will be a major contributor to FDI entering the region and which will be a vital economic partner for us.

Since 1967, Asean has managed, with notable success, to deal with the internal disputes within the region. Perhaps the time has come to use this form of negotiation and compromise — dubbed the Asean Way — to deal with China, too. In any case, angry rhetoric and flag-burning will get us nowhere, but already add more tension to an already overheated situation.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Young Chinese Couple Buried a 68-year-old Woman ALIVE

   BEIJING, China - A young couple believed to have buried an elderly woman alive after knocking her down last month while drunken driving have been placed in criminal detention. "It's certain the woman was not dead when buried," a publicity officer from Yuyao public security bureau, who only gave his surname Zhou, told China Daily on Wednesday. "Legal medical experts detected particles identical to those in the surrounding soil in her lungs, which indicates she was still breathing," he said.

   But police have not formed a definite conclusion on the case, according to Zhou. "Preliminary judgment of the cause of death is brain injury by the impact from the car and asphyxia," he said.

   Police in Yuyao, Zhejiang province, received a report from construction workers about a car without license plates abandoned in a remote construction site on May 1. Officers found cracks on the windshield of the car. Police received another report the next day from the same people that a body was buried in the mud nearby. They later found the corpse of an elderly woman 300 meters from where the car had been discarded.

   Judging from the windshield and a bloodstain on the backseat of the car, as well as marks on the body, the police believe the woman might have been buried after being hit by the car on the morning of April 30. "A witness said he heard someone crying and saw an elderly woman lying on the ground near a Santana. A man and a woman got out and put the elderly woman in the car, saying they would send her to hospital," said a policeman surnamed Song, from the criminal investigation brigade of the Yuyao public security bureau, who is handling the case.

   The woman, surnamed Fang, was a 68-year-old native of Anhui province. The young man and woman, both 25, were captured in Liupanshui city of Guizhou province on May 9. Police believe the couple had been in a karaoke bar all night before the accident. They believe the couple worried about criminal liability because of drunken driving and causing the accident, and may have found the elderly woman was no longer groaning and breathing on their way to hospital, said Song.

   Shen Ning, a criminal lawyer from Shanghai Watson and Band Law Firm, said it could be considered intentional homicide if the woman was alive when buried. "The approximate time of death and even the conditions at the site can be restored by forensic science," Shen said. 

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American Idol Season 11 Winner: PHILLIP PHILLIPS

Congratulations! Phillip Phillips for winning the American Idol 11.

   Yes it is, 21-year old Phillip Phillips is the new American Idol winner. 132 million votes came in last night, as announce by host Ryan Seacrest, defeating the early front-runner Filipino/Mexican, Jessica Sanchez. He will now succeed the throne of last year's winner Scotty McCreery after besting other AI finalists without even landing in the bottom group. This White Guy With Guitar (WGWG) who hails from Georgia will soon be serenading us with his winning/coronation song "Home". 

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

JS vs PP - Jessica Sanchez vs Phillip Phillips battle it out to be the next American Idol Season 11 Winner

   The sixteen year old Jessica Sanchez chose to sing power ballads while Phillip Phillips from Georgia decided to go indie as they battle it out in the finale. Who will emerge as the next American Idol winner? We'll find that out tomorrow.


   Sanchez, the teen with a big voice will try her luck to make history and become the youngest winner of American Idol. She was very well-received by audiences for her fearless covers of Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" and Celine Dion's "The Prayer". Both songs received positive critiques from the judges. Randy said she won round 1; Steven thought Jessica won the second round. However, after two remarkable performances her supposedly first single, a pop ballad entitled "Change Nothing" did not entice the judges. They fell flat about the song, thus making her sad and almost cried.


   Twenty-one year old Phillip earned screams of adulation from the audience with his performances. He sang Billy Joel's "Movin Out" and the classic "Stand By Me". 7,000 LA audiences may have been captivated by his first two performances but the judges seemed not satisfied. "This is a tough one. It's like a battle of the opposites." said Jennifer Lopez.

   But his last song "Home" - a song that mixed the style of folk-rock band Mumford and Sons with Paul Simon and featured a marching band - brought all three judges to their feet at the end of the performance finale. Steven Tyler: "You were perfect tonight, and I think you are the man.". Randy Jackson called the performance "brilliant, genius" and added "Dude I loved the song! I loved you. I loved the production. Everything about that was perfect."

   Results will be revealed tomorrow at the end of a two hour live finale Wednesday on Fox television.

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Bruce Jenner: Esquire's 2012 "Father of the Year"

Bruce Jenner

   Former U.S. track and field athlete, William Bruce Jenner, was named as this years "Father of the Year" by Esquire magazine. For its June 2012 issue, the magazine gives us a glimpse of Jenner's life as a father, he's triumphs and trials he has encountered before becoming the now infamous patriarch of the Kardashians.

   "I'm done with competition," admits the man who won the gold medal for decathlon in the 1976 Montreal games. Instead, the 62-year-old is contented with his tasks which includes doing school runs, babysitting Kourtney's son Mason, and playing with his prized Goblin 700 remote-control helicopter in the backyard. "Going through what I went through, being that obsessed, is not what I would consider a good, well-rounded life," says Jenner.

   As tough as he was on the track, Jenner is a big softie on the inside, according to his famous stepdaughters. "He's just such a good person with such a good heart," says Khloe, while Kim adds, "He's such a strong man." But it wasn't exactly a dream "Brady Bunch" scenario when Jenner married Kris, who was formerly wed to famed O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian, in 1990 after just seven months of dating. Kourtney, the oldest of Kris' kids with the late Kardashian, was 12 at the time and she admits she resented him. "But he didn't give up on me," she tells Esquire. "He never gave up."

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OKC Thunders triumphs over Lakers; wins series 4-1

   Oklahoma City Thunders won Game 5 of their playoff series match against the popular Los Angeles Lakers with the score 106-90. Russell Westbrook dominated the game scoring in 28pts while Kevin Durant also added a noteworthy 25pts with 10 rebounds. These two All-Stars skipped their usual rest periods to power the Thunder. James Harden added 17 points as Oklahoma City's bench men outscored the Lakers' 35-5. The Thunder also had a 30-6 edge in fast-break scoring. The Lakers were outrebounded 51-35 and had only three offensive rebounds, two from Gasol and none from Bynum.

   On the other hand, Kobe Bryant scored a big 42pts, Gasol with 23pts, 17 rebounds and six assists and Steve Blake scored a playoff career-best of 19 pts for the Lakers. However, it isn't enough to pull down the raging Thunders.

   OKC Thunders will now face the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is Jackie Chan retiring from action films?

Jackie Chan
     Jackie Chan, the Hong Kong-born Chinese actor, is now retiring from action films. At age 58, Chan announced his retirement at the Cannes Film Festival. His decision is in part due to his age. He feels he's "too old" for the demanding stunts. He said that the upcoming film "Chinese Zodiac" will be his last action flick. "I am not young any more. I am really, really tired," Chan said. He also remarked that he has become turned off by the increasing level of violence in films today. "The world is too violent right now. It's a dilemma -- I love fighting. I like action. but I don't like violence."

   Indeed, fans of Chan's work will note that while his films have a tremendous number of impressive stunts, the action is rarely violent for the sake of being violent. Comedy and innocence are usually mixed in. Despite hanging up his kung fu kicks, good news to his supporters is that he's not retiring from acting. Chan said he wants to expand his range and take on more emotionally dramatic work.

   "I don't just want to be an action star, I want to be a true actor. I want to get rid of my image. I want the audience to know also I'm not only a comedian. I can act. Day by day, year by year, I'm going to show you the real Jackie Chan." Chan cited Robert De Niro and Clint Eastwood as his role models.

   Chan expressed that his new movie "Chinese Zodiac" is one of the most important movies in his entire career. He stars as Asian Hawk, a man who searches the world for 12 bronze symbols from the Chinese zodiac. Chan wrote and directed, as well as kicked butt on screen.

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The Avengers now reaches $1 billion mark

   Joss Whedon's superhero epic Marvel's "The Avengers" or "Avengers Assemble" has now joined the ranks of movies that reached the $1 billion worldwide box office record. Aside from tying with "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2" and James Cameron's "Avatar", "The Avengers" further adds to its impressive resume an explosive growth for it has just been playing in cinemas for 10 of those days. On the other hand, the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp horror comedy "Dark Shadows" only earned disappointing gross numbers since it debuted last week. Although part of its faults can be credited to the competition provided by Marvel's "The Avengers". Plot-wise, the film was criticized by early viewers, not to mention that there was almost no marketing done by Warner Bros. for it. Rounding up the top three is Tim Story's comedy "Think Like A Man", according to sources at Box Office Mojo (10 to 13 May).

   Similarly in most countries in Asia, "The Avengers" is still in top spot last weekend, with "Dark Shadows" placing second. Not many viewers over here know that "Dark Shadows" is based on the 1966/1971 gothic horror soap opera of the same name about a wealthy playboy named Barnabas Collins who was cursed to turn into a vampire when he evokes the ire of the witch, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green).

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