Friday, February 15, 2019

Putin And Lukashenko Strengthen ''Union States'' With Ski

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarus Lukashenka and Putin discussed vodka and snack during ski at the Gazprom Mountain Resort (Laura) in Sochi, Russia on 14 February 2019/ AFP. 
President Putin has once again demonstrated his health "macho temperament" by inviting his ally President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus for skiing at Gazprom Mountain Resort (Laura), a Black Sea resort situated in Sochi, Russia. Mr. Putin who is now 66, and Lukashenko, 64, have been in rapport talks about Vodka and Snacks in the morning while heading to the local ski resort that took place in the afternoon. 

President Putin wearing a black helmet and a red ski suit and his courtpart Lukasheko put on some black ski suit and bonnet on the head. They came down with 1 km haulage slope in a flexible posture. Putin has been revealing the 'macho temperament' from fishing, hunting, shooting as well as sports such as ice hockey, horse riding and judo.  Putin he also received eight honors from the International Judo Federation.

In the image, Alexander Lukashenko (left), president of Belarus, and Vladimir Putin, president of Russia preparing to ski at Gazprom Mountain Resort gives a break from a meeting at Kremlin. 
They both sat on a chairlift at the Gazprom Mountain Resort, which belongs to the Russian gas giant, and is located a few kilometers from the competition sites of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. Both two countries have shown some differences in several bilateral issues, such as taxation. So, the special meeting has arranged to fix the misunderstood between two allies. 

The purpose of invitation the Belarus's leader was to discuss the main issues on the bilateral agenda and also prospects for the development of the Eurasian integration processes.  Later that day, the President and his Belarusian counterpart took a break from negotiations and went skiing at an alpine ski resort. On 15 February, Russia and Belarus will meet with their ministers of education, culture and sport to discuss practical proposals for the further development of the cultural and humanitarian cooperation between the two countries.

     In the picture, a woman takes a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin during the skiing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin: Said ''we are delighted to see you, this time in Sochi. As agreed, we will have an informal conversation. We will have the opportunity to get together and talk today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. I hope you will get the chance to relax a little, at least for a few hours. We have an extensive program for today and the next two days. To begin with, I would like to reiterate with satisfaction that our relations are getting stronger. Russia remains Belarus’ largest trade and economic partner and accounts for over 49 percent of the republic's trade. Our financial relations are going from strength to strength as well. A fairly large amount of state loans – over 6 billion plus 58 billion rubles and six EAEU Fund transactions totaling $1.6 billion – was granted to Belarus over recent years.

President Vladimir Putin with goggles at the Gazprom Mountain Resort (Laura) in Sochi, Russia 
This is the third meeting between the two presidents from December 25 onwards to settle the controversy over duties on oil and gas. The main problem in Russian-Belarusian relations is the well-known Russian "fiscal maneuver", under which Moscow will eliminate by 2024 the discount to tariffs on oil exports to Belarus, which is currently 30%.

In this regard, I would like to note that Belarus is financially responsible when it comes to fulfilling its obligations which makes it possible for us to operate major projects, including the construction of a nuclear power plant, which is nearing completion. This allows us to expand purely commercial relations in various fields, including agricultural produce which accounts for over 34 percent of Belarus’ total exports to Russia. I am aware that we occasionally go through rough patches and complications when it comes to our relations but, as it should be between friends, I hope these issues will be resolved the same way they were resolved before. Of course, energy is one of the critical areas.

President Putin (right) and President Alexander Lucakenco of Belarus are on the ropes/AFP
The volumes of hydrocarbon supplies, both oil and gas, will remain at the level that we agreed upon. I am aware that our colleagues – Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and his Belarusian counterpart – meet regularly. Their most recent meeting was in late 2018. They are working to coordinate the positions that need coordination. Of course, our cooperation in the sphere of international relations and the situation in the region is important. For us, Belarus is a critical strategic partner and an ally, and it is important for me to compare notes with the President of Belarus on these matters, including, by the way, integration within the post-Soviet space. We are very pleased to see you. Welcome!

   Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko with delegates had a meeting with Vladimir at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi. Belarusian leader is in Russia on a 3-day working visit/AFP.
President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: ''Mr President, first, thank you for the invitation, as we sometimes get bogged down in our own problems and fail to see things from the proper perspective. You were correct when you said that we can use an hour or two to take a breather. I took advantage of it this morning. Thank you for getting the ski runs in good condition''. The people who joined skiing with me are quite happy. So, we are already familiar with the Sochi trails. For me, this is home. As I was riding along the new road late last night, I thought back to that difficult, terrible Soviet-made road that we used and were scared to look down. Today, the resort and the area have changed beyond recognition. I am glad that Belarusians made this place their home at one point. We operate two hotels, mansions, here that are packed with tourists, and have so far managed to do so without a loss. So, thank you for the invitation and the programme outlined by our Russian colleagues. Indeed, we have the opportunity to discuss not just the economy, but cultural matters as well.
Putin and Lukashenko strengthen their bilateral relations with a special ski day
Lukasheko added that frankly, speaking we rarely talk only on the Union State agenda, but we will invite the ministers to Sirius at the level of two presidents. We are creating a children's technology park; I told you about it when you were planning Sirius, and now we have a technology park. Therefore, this is relevant. Thank you for the invitation to talk to our colleagues, who will visit you tomorrow, on important international issues. You should know that in the context of international relations, the relations between Belarus and Russia are stable, no matter what anyone writes or says. I do not need to convince you of that: You and I know this well. As for the support of our economy, I am also grateful to you. I often tell the Russian ambassador that Belarusian economy works as the final processing part of the Russian economy. We buy 60–70 percent of commodities and components for our main engineering products and oil refining in Russia.

Therefore, this is our common economy, and supporting us, you actually support approximately 35–40 million people, together with their families, who work at Russian enterprises that supply products to Belarus. Therefore, if someone in Russia or Belarus does not understand this, I think they will understand it soon. Of course, there are always questions and there will be more, but we have always found solutions to all issues. I do not think this is a big problem for us. As for food, I was surprised to hear this – because it’s the same in Belarus: poor-quality water and food – although both Russia and Belarus have both water and food – three-quarters of the population suffer and die from poor-quality food and water. Both our countries have done research, and we have every opportunity to provide quality food to the people.

Therefore, whatever conflicts or scandals may happen, you must remember that we will never deliver bad vodka or a bad snack to Russians. You must understand this clearly. Thank you again, Mr President, for the invitation. I think that our meetings here over these few days will be beneficial for the Belarusian-Russian relations. He concluded.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

How To Celebrate China's Valentine Day

A couple holding their marriage certificates pose for photos at a marriage registration center on 14 February 2019 in Qingdao, Shandong Province of China.(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
On the annual day of love, known across most of the world as Valentine's Day, traditions in are fairly straightforward. Whenever 14 February comes around, chocolates, flowers or other gifts are often exchanged to show affection to one another. However, in Asia, the event is celebrated with slightly different twists -- some bachelors and bachelorettees even celebrate a lack of love. 

From swapping house roles, paddy water racing while carrying the girlfriend on the back to star-crossed lovers or getting married en masse, here are some of the most interesting Valentine's Day. The Qixi Festival, also known as the Double Seventh Festival or Qiqiao Festival, is the most romantic of all traditional Chinese holidays. It’s a time to celebrate star-crossed lovers with grand romantic gestures, boxes of chocolates and the singles go for a wild and weird shopping extravaganza in longing for the true love.

Chinese shoppers have been spending more for their loved ones ahead of Valentine's Day, igniting the festive domestic market. Gift-givers, in the hope of wooing their love interests, are increasingly turning to online shopping, as data from major digital retailers showed a roaring demand for flowers in the days before 14 Feb.  Sending flowers is a time-honored tradition to celebrate the romantic day. In just three days, 500,000 roses and tulips from plantations in southwest China's Yunnan Province have been snapped up on Alibaba's group-buying service Juhuasuan.

Meanwhile, orders for flowers grew by 69 percent on Alibaba's Taobao marketplace, with orders for roses up 220 percent. Flower sales soared 339 percent on another e-commerce giant over the same period. Preserved fresh flowers, bouquets in boxes and mixed-color roses were the top three best selling products. Shoppers are also linking their Taobao accounts with those of their sweethearts as a new way to spread their love. Over 12 million couples have linked their accounts together over the past year, according to Taobao. Alibaba officially rolled out the new function "relative account" on 01 February 2018, which allows its users to pay for each other.

Young men of Bouyei ethnic group carry their girlfriends on the backs as they compete in a rice paddy race to celebrate the Bouyei traditional's Valentine's Day at Wangmo County on 05 October 2018 in Qianxinan Bouyei and Miao-Guizhou China.Photo: He Junyi/China News Service.
For Xie Minchao from the eastern city of Suzhou, it is heart-warming and special to fulfill his girlfriend's wishes online. Xie linked his account with his girlfriend's just ahead of Valentine's Day. "We work in different cities and talk about new and funny things with each other every day," he said. With their accounts now connected, they can share real-time information on the Taobao app. Every time Xie found a cool product on Taobao, he would forward the link to his girlfriend, asking for her advice. It has been a great conversation starter for the couple. Sometimes he would purchase the items of the links she sent to him. "It's ceremonial that we help fulfil each other's wishes," he said. Couples exchanging presents this year prefer premium brands.

      Modern Chinese younger lovers celebrate Valentine Day every year same as Qixi Festival. 
Leading online retailer reported a 76.5 percent rise in sales of imported cosmetics, with MAC, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior on the best-selling list. The percentage of males who bought imported lipsticks went up from 38 percent to 58 percent in the past few days, according to Many shoppers picked up presents like Givenchy Le Rouge lipsticks, chocolates and music boxes with a "gifts" function on the Taobao app, sending out their sweet surprises online. People are also expressing love by emptying their partner's shopping cart. saw a huge increase in orders for products like Dyson hair dryers, four-leafed clover bracelets, skin care products, and smartphones.

Valentine's Day gifts of special interest -- a handcrafted book with personal photos or useful household supplies -- are also more attractive to Chinese consumers. In their everyday conversation via the Taobao app, Xie knows what his girlfriend wants. He plans to surprise her with a four-leafed clover necklace. Besides 14 Feb, lovers across China celebrate the traditional Chinese Valentine's Day, or the Qixi Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. The coming Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month, is also an important day for Chinese couples. In ancient times, young men and women usually went out into the streets and met each other on the day when the curfew was lifted.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Japan Enact Law 111 To Sterilize Transgenders

Lesbian,bisexual and transgender community dress during the Tokyo Rainbow Parade in 2018 parade where over 3000 people took part in the annual gay march: Photo Getty Image/Tokyo.
St. Tropez
Takakito Usui (45 age) a  transgender appealed the Supreme Court that ruled a law to force sterilization "currently constitutional." Usui wished to register as a male without undergoing surgery.
Japan has upheld a law effectively requiring transgender people seeking to change their gender legally to be sterilized. Takakito Usui, a transgender man who wants to change the gender listed on his official documents, had appealed to the court seeking to overturn Law 111, which requires applicants to "permanently lack functioning" reproductive parts to qualify for gender affirmation.

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected Usui's case Thursday, ruling the 2003 law constitutional -- though judges added it was invasive and encouraged the legislature to review it. "It is unthinkable in this day and time that the law requires a sex-change operation to change gender," Usui's lawyer Tomoyasu Oyama told the media. "When the law was established 15 years ago, LGBT people had to make a bitter decision and swallow the conditions to pave a narrow way for official change of gender. With this decision, I hope lawmakers will change the law to support the wishes of the LGBT community." The court initially said the law was intended to prevent "problems" in parent-child relations which could lead to societal "confusion," and avoid "abrupt changes" to society.
Legal gender recognition in Japan is regulated by Law No. 111 of 2003. The law came into effect one year after its promulgation on 16 July, 2004.
About 7,000 people have changed their gender registration under the law since it was first passedWhile they ruled against Usui, two judges issued an additional opinion calling on society to "embrace the diversity of sexual identity." Suki Chung, Asia Pacific campaign manager at Amnesty International, said the ruling was "a blow for the recognition of transgender people in Japan. It is a missed opportunity to address the discrimination transgender people face." "Forcing people to undertake medical treatment in order to obtain legal gender recognition violates their right to the highest attainable standard of health. We urge the Japanese government to end this discriminatory and highly intrusive policy," she said.

People attend annual Rainbow Parade in May 2018 on LGBT rights in Tokyo,Japan:Getty Image.
Requiring sterilization has been widely denounced by LGBT groups in Japan and around the world, and in 2013 the UN's special rapporteur on human rights called on all states "to outlaw forced or coerced sterilization in all circumstances and provide special protection to individuals belonging to marginalized groups." In a 2017 report noting some advances on transgender rights, Human Rights Watch said the 2003 law "remains a stain on Japan's record." "The procedure is discriminatory, requiring applicants to be single and without children under 20, undergo a psychiatric evaluation to receive a diagnosis of 'Gender Identity Disorder', and be sterilized," the report said.

Nine countries across Asia provide no right for people to change their legal gender, according to NQAPIA, a federation of regional LGBT groups, while a number of others have significant hurdles to doing so.Conservative Japanese lawmaker Mio Sugita, who belongs to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, attracted widespread criticism last year when she published an article saying "Support for LGBTs has gone too far." "Will people agree to have their taxes used on LGBT couples? They cannot have children, so they are unproductive," said Sugita, according to the Japan Times

However polls suggest Japan is becoming less conservative on LGBT issues. A poll this month by advertising firm Dentsu found more respondents than ever openly identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Over 70% of respondents said they supported stronger legal protections for LGBT people.

Monday, January 21, 2019

WhatsApp Has Put Up Sharing Limit

Facebook Inc: WhatsApp will now only let people forward messages 5 times to fight fake news.
WhatsApp will now limit users to forwarding a message only five times, in an attempt to cut down on the spread of misinformation. According to Reuters, the five time forwarding limit is being implemented across the world starting today. While fake stories and deceitful groups on Facebook have been the focus in the US, misinformation on WhatsApp has become a problem elsewhere in the world. In Brazil, it became a particularly big issue ahead of the country’s presidential elections in October, as bad voting information, conspiracy theories, and false stories about candidates spread across the network. One study of the most widely shared images in Brazilian political group chats found that more than half of the top 50 images were misleading, with many being completely false or presented out of context.

WhatsApp initially limited messages to being forwarded 20 times in July, with the five time forwarding limit being tested out in India. Before that, you could forward a message to up to 256 people. WhatsApp began labeling forwarded messages around that time, too. The initial limits were prompted by a series of mob attacks and killings in India, set off by the spread of false information about child kidnappings. While the smaller forwarding limit could help curb the spread of bad information, it won’t necessarily be as limiting as it sounds. Messages can still be forwarded to groups, with each group including up to 256 people. That means a forwarded message could be put in front of nearly 1,300 people, despite the five time limit. 

Five forwards can still reach nearly 1,300 people.
WhatsApp didn’t immediately disclose any data on whether it had seen a substantial decline in the spread of false information by reducing the limit to five. We’ve reached out for further information. Fighting misinformation on WhatsApp presents different challenges than misinformation on Facebook, because of the different ways the networks operate. Unlike Facebook, much of WhatsApp’s messaging and sharing is done through private, encrypted channels, limiting moderators’ ability to see what’s happening and intervene.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Another Good Day For Mr. Putin

Paranoia and dysfunction has engulfed both Atlantic Treaty, the United States and Britain.
As Trump discussed the pulling U.S. out North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): The news just keeps on getting better for President Vladimir Putin. On either side of the North Atlantic, the United States and Britain, the two great English-speaking democracies are now undergoing simultaneous political breakdowns. To the Kremlin the political turmoil and dystopia that pervading in the west  will give Moscow advantage.

Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set.In the days around a tumultuous NATO summit meeting last summer, they said, Mr. Trump told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States. In London, Theresa May on Tuesday suffered the worst defeat in the modern parliamentary era by a prime minister, as lawmakers shot down her Brexit deal with the European Union by a staggering 432 votes to 202.

The United States, meanwhile, remains locked in its longest-ever government shutdown, which is now entering its 26th day, is nowhere near ending and is the culmination of two years of whirling political chaos sparked by President Donald Trump with his obbession of building 'big and beautiful wall' around US-Mexican borders. It's hard to believe that the two nations that perceived by the rest of the world as champions of the diplomacy, democracy and beacons of stability, have dissolved into such bitter civic dysfunction.

The political self-recrimination is a far cry from the days when President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher bonded to face down totalitarian threats to Western, liberal democracy. Now the threat to the political solidity of the West is coming partly from inside, the fractured political consensus that makes it impossible to address vital questions like Britain's relations with Europe and immigration in the US. Supporters of Trump in the US and Brexit in Britain see their revolts as uprisings against distant or unaccountable leaders who no longer represent them or share their values. But the disruption that some see as a reinvention of democracy is viewed by skeptics as deeply corrosive to the international political architecture that has prevailed for over 70 years. The meltdown in Britain has some foreign investors wanting to know if Britain has "lost its mind," said Tina Fordham, chief global political analyst for Citigroup. "Even though ... I've been writing about magical thinking in politics and anticipating all of this -- I too am astonished that reason is not prevailing," Fordham told media on Tuesday.

Theresa May spotted few hours after a big defeat in Brexit 432 to 202 votes in Parliament.
While the political stalemates in London and Washington are not an exact match, some common factors combined to lay siege to what have long been two of the world's most resilient democracies. The allies are experiencing the reverberations of populist revolts that erupted in 2016 -- in the Brexit vote and the election of Trump -- and are now slamming into legislatures and breeding division and stasis. The result is that Britain and the United States are all but ungovernable on the most important questions that confront both nations. That's music to Putin's ears. Kremlin may seeks to avenge the fall of the Soviet empire, which himself  President Putin experienced as a heartbroken KGB agent in East Germany. Russia has been accused of meddling in both the Brexit vote and the US election in 2016 -- the critical events that fomented the current crisis of the West. Over the last five years, Putin has defied Western scorn about Russia's frayed economic power and made the best of a bad hand, working to re-establish influence in the former Soviet orbit.

Russia successful reclaimed Crimea back from Ukraine and restored Moscow's political beachhead in the Middle East. In the last two years, Putin has had a witting, or unwitting, ally in Trump, whose attacks on NATO and US allies and decision to pull US troops out of Syria played into Russia's goals. Some already making a claim that the political distemper in the West was sown by a Russian intelligence operation masterminded by Putin. His success is adding urgency to the question that special counsel Robert Mueller has spent nearly two years investigating -- whether Trump's campaign cooperated with Moscow to influence the election in 2016.

In another win for Putin, America is tying itself in knots in a surreal national debate over whether Trump -- who incidentally is a vocal supporter of Brexit -- is working on behalf of Russia, following a bombshell New York Times report. "This is why it is so not normal to have to ask, well, whose side is the President on? Russia's side or our side?" Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, asked on CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday. "It is the accumulation of what seem like unusual, head-scratching, disparate kinds of utterances from him, when you start to see a pattern, when he basically spouts Putin's lines." Trump's mysteriously cozy relationship with the Russian leader was on display at the Helsinki summit last year. He also often seems to adopt a Putinesque worldview despite his claims that no President has been tougher on Russia than he is. But on Monday, adding to an unreal atmosphere in Washington, Trump had to take the extraordinary step of saying he was not working for Russia.

Trump's enlistment of rural, conservative voters against metropolitan elites echoes the arguments of leaders orchestrating Britain's exit from Europe. Now, in both nations, the unwillingness of rebels to dilute the purity of their goals is causing gridlock and resistance in Congress and in Parliament. In the United States, Trump is mounting a defiant stand on his border wall, which triggered the partial government shutdown. It's just as important for Trump to keep faith with voters with whom he bonded over the wall as it is for Brexiteers to honor the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU. This is the case even though both aspirations, which have taken on mystical properties, are becoming more elusive. With the US President not bending and with Democrats adamant they won't fold, 800,000 government workers could be without pay for days to come, and halfhearted attempts to break the partisan deadlock have failed. Britain, meanwhile, is mired in the worst political crisis since World War II. While a slim majority voted to leave the EU, there is no consensus on how to do it, and about half the country still wants to stay in the bloc.

The voluble Trump and the plodding May could not be more different in personality and political style. The Prime Minister is a creature of the Conservative Party establishment and spent years climbing to the top. Trump never went native in Washington. He's still the ringleader of a populist movement that sent him to power in a stunning political upset. But they are both leaders who once set on a course are loath to turn back, and often speak in slogans like "Build the wall" and "Brexit means Brexit," which sound good but don't help them follow through on their goals. While persistence can be a strength, it can also backfire.

Trump has been saying the same thing for days -- that Democrats are soft on the border and need to capitulate. But he's failed to rally a coalition of Americans behind his border wall. Effectively he's led the Republican Party into a political dead end. May repeatedly insists that her rejected deal is the only way to honor the 2016 referendum, right up until its massive defeat. But she has failed to build public support for her approach. If anything, she's more locked into a failed political position than Trump is on the shutdown. And the deeper the trans-Atlantic dysfunction gets, the better it is for Putin

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Canadian Citizen Robert Schellenberg Given A Death Penalty Over 222 kg Drugs

Schellenberg, a 36-year-old former oil worker, was first detained in Liaoning province in 2015. And jailed for 15 years later fined US$22,000 in November last year for smuggling 200kg of methamphetamine in China and on Monday he was given a death sentence.
Robert Schellenberg caught up with 222 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine which is a synthesized drugs. The west with its spectrum of waging secret war to depolarized Chinese society, have opted with many things in targeting youths with any sort of psycho-illusion that seeks to smearing phony democracy among the oriental population.  The west already got a bad reputation when they did the same thing on the Chinese people long back in history during what known Opium War when the Chinese imperial mighty raise up to free the people from the destructive practices of Dutch East India Company. It speculated that today it seems they repition it for the third time to debilitate the precious youth of China.

Robert Schellenberg certainly faced a grim future. His recent drug-smuggling sentence meant another decade or so in a Chinese prison, after a years-long criminal record back home in British Columbia. But at least now the Canadian’s family could visit him for the first time in four years, and an appeal of his conviction was in the works. Those glimmers of hope vanished in a terrible flash Monday, as a court in China sentenced the 36-year-old to death, dramatically underlining fears that his case has become the latest bargaining chip in China’s bitter feud with Canada.

Justin Trudeau vows to 'intercede' for Schellenberg's death row in China for drug trafficking.
Experts link his case to Canada’s arrest of an executive with China’s Huawei technology giant, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the sentence – meted out at a hastily conducted retrial – a matter of “extreme concern.” For friends and family, the news was simply tragic. Despite a checkered past as a small-city drug dealer, with addiction problems of his own, they called Schellenberg a thoughtful, warm human being. “Worse case fear confirmed,” his aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, told the National Post on Monday. “Our thoughts are with Robert at this time. It is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking. It is a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation.” Schellenberg was sentenced just two months ago to 15 years in prison for his part in an alleged operation to dispatch 200 kilograms of crystal meth from the port city of Dalian in Liaoning Province, Northeast of China to Australia, the case unfolding mostly in obscurity since his 2014 arrest.

But late last month, Chinese media suddenly publicized his appeal hearing, and then the appeal court unexpectedly ordered a retrial at the urging of prosecutors who wanted a tougher penalty. The retrial was scheduled for barely two weeks later, and the verdict and sentence were reportedly handed down Monday with little deliberation. Unlike one of the other accused in the case, Schellenberg’s death sentence did not come with a two-year suspension, which usually results in the penalty being commuted to life in prison, noted Margaret Lewis, a law professor at New Jersey’s Seton Hall University and an expert on the Chinese legal system. He can appeal, and all death penalties are reviewed – and invariably confirmed – by the Supreme People’s Court, but without political intervention, his prospects look grim, she said. “Unless there is some dramatic turn of events, this is marching toward execution in the not too distant future,” said Lewis. “This is the most severe sentence allowed under Chinese law. It is death, with execution (after) crossing the Ts and dotting the Is.” Trudeau said Monday the government will do all it can to help Schellenberg. “It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to arbitrarily apply [the] death penalty,” he told reporters in Ottawa. Chinese authorities have responded furiously to the detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is under house arrest in Vancouver as Canadian courts consider a U.S. request to extradict her on fraud-related charges. Chinese officials have threatened both Cananda and US with "grave consequences" if the "extremely egregious" arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive at one of its biggest tech companies, isn't reversed. Meng was detained, at the request of the US, on suspicion of violating Iran trade sanctions.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Astronaut Accidentally Call From International Space Station

Dutch Astronaut Andre Kuipers accidentally placed a call from International Space Station.
A Dutch astronaut accidentally dialed 911 from the International Space Station, according to a Netherlands news report. This wasn’t a butt dial, but instead the accidental omission of one number while attempting to dial for an outside, and then international, line. The process requires astronauts to dial the number “9” for an outside line, followed by “011” for an international line. The zero, unfortunately, was missed.

The amusing mistake was made by Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, who talked about the faux pas with Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stitching. According to the report, Kuipers hung up after missing the “0,” but the call was noted by Mission Control at NASA. The following day, NASA officials sent an email to the ISS asking whether someone had dialed 911. The call had apparently triggered an alert at NASA, which checked on the room where the call had been issued but found nothing. Kuipers apparently confirmed that emergency services had accidentally been dialed. The accident was made possible by VoIP phone services that are installed on the International Space Station. Astronauts aboard the floating space lab have been able to make calls to Earth for the better part of a decade thanks to modern Internet voice services, as well as better connectivity in space. According to NASA, astronauts are able to make calls whenever they’d like, such as to family. This is far from the first time someone has accidentally placed the wrong call from the ISS — astronaut Tim Peake mistakenly called the wrong number once, asking the woman who answered, “Hello, is this planet Earth?” Story Timeline.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Best Places You Could Spend New Year's 2019 Bash

From the biggest beach parties to the most spectacular fireworks on the planet, here are our suggestions of where you could spend a New Year's night in style.


From the biggest beach parties to the most spectacular fireworks on the planet, here are our suggestions of where you could spent a New Year's night in style.


The New Year’s Eve celebration can be too expensive, too crowded, too much pressure to have the greatest moment of your life. OK, you could hunker down at home – or you could make it really memorable by hitting up one of the best New Year’s Eve parties in down town or chose to go for the special holiday's trip at your favorite destination around the planet.



A spectacular pyro-musical display lights up Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour at the stroke of midnight with lasers, fireworks and choreographed LEDs exploding across this frenetic city’s famous landscape. Our tip: forget joining the crush on the waterfront. Instead, watch the show from a traditional junk on the water, or one of HK’s many world-class rooftop bars.

There are a number of quieter venues on the Kowloon side of the water that offer great vantages without big crowds. Wooloomooloo Prime steakhousein Tsim Sha Tsui has 270-degree, 21st-floor views of the harbour, which can be enjoyed from the balcony or the dining room’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Another hot spot is Red Sugar the Kerry Hotel’s swanky cocktail lounge, with its expansive outdoor terrace.

This year, it’s got to be Hong Kong’s most exciting new hotel, The Murray. Foster + Partners-designed rooms afford spectacular harbour panoramas; don’t miss the refreshing lemongrass G&Ts at ground-floor bar Murray Lane.






Sydney Harbour’s firework extravaganza is watched by more than a million people gathered along the foreshore – but a better idea is to join the boatfuls of revellers bobbing in the water. You can hire out a boat, bring your own bubbles and start the countdown early. Landlubbers might prefer to reserve an outside table at one of the waterfront restaurants by Sydney Harbour Bridge for a front-row seat.

Alternatively, motor out to Cockatoo Island and set up a moonlit picnic in preparation for the show; you can even camp or glamp there for the night, as long as you book a spot in advance. New Year’s Eve without the end-of-night battle for a taxi? Yes, please.

All about the pyrotechnics? The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney overlooks Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. For a more local feel, book the new Paramount House Hotel in inner-city foodie hub Surry Hills. An industrial concrete-and-copper aesthetic meets furniture, bathroom products – and beer – by independent Aussie makers.






When the clock strikes 12, the ordinarily restrained Danes gather at Town Hall Square for a rowdy, BYO bacchanal of popping champagne corks, whooshing rockets and fizzing Roman candles. For a slightly more orderly take, twinkly Tivoli Gardens lights up the sky with its own Firework Festival; its restaurants are all serving New Year’s dinners; and the roller coasters are open – plus, plenty of glögg stalls serve liquid courage.

Watch how Copenhageners abandon hygge for hedonism on New Year’s Eve as thousands of merry folk take to the streets to light their own fireworks just after midnight. A favoured local spot to watch the mayhem – which is loud, raucous and just a tad nerve-wracking – is Queen Louise’s Bridge, which stretches across The Lakes, in the heart of the city.

The new Sanders, on a quiet street just a short walk from ever-lively Nyhavn, is enchanting. Style-wise, it combines Danish mid-century modern and British Colonial (wickerwork here and there, palms in pots), and there’s a fifth-floor conservatory with views over the city.








Barcelona is a city of night owls, so the revelry doesn’t really start gearing up until about 11pm. That’s when crowds gather at Plaça d’Espanya to watch the midnight pyrotechnics on Montjuïc, the hill just above. A few yards from here, Poble Espanyol, the open-air architectural museum, hosts a huge dance party until 6am.


One of the stranger traditions – other than eating a grape for each chime at midnight (seriously, everyone does it) – takes place at Plaça de Catalunya, in the city centre. As soon as the New Year has been rung in, the assembled thousands throw their Cava bottles into the middle of the square. If that sounds slightly frightening, head instead for the most popular club bashes: Pacha rages from 12.10am to 6.45am, or try Sala Apolo, beloved for resisting scandalous New Year price hikes. The party here kicks off at 12.30am.


Join the creative crowd at Soho House Barcelona, in a palm-tree-lined square just off the seafront. Along with its speakeasy bar/cinema and basement spa, don’t miss the roof terrace for poolside views of Port Vell marina.





Berlin’s anything-goes energy is well and truly buzzing at this massive open-air party between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. One of Europe’s largest outdoor celebrations, this jamboree sees around a million people gathering along the event’s 1.6-mile stretch. Better still, it’s free of charge and keeps pumping until 3am. Expect live music, DJs, laser shows, food and, of course, fireworks.

Berlin’s not short of world-class clubs, but the rooftop garden at House of Weekend comes into its own on New Year’s Eve, offering astonishing views of the pyrotechnics and the city’s skyline. Plus, you don’t have to worry about that infamous Berghain bouncer.

Make yourself at home in Gorki Apartments, on the edge of bubbling Prenzlauer Berg. These cool-looking spaces are all different, but each has its own edgy glamour: a rustic wooden dining table might be surrounded by a mix of chairs found at a flea market; in the corner there could be a piece from Dixon or Knoll.



Conveniently compact and always-down-to-party Amsterdam is an amalgam of impromptu street frolics on 31 December, but if there’s one reliable place to be at midnight, it’s the Magere Brug (‘Skinny Bridge’). Here, merrymakers gather to watch countdown fireworks bursting over the River Amstel, then continue their festivities all across town. Nieuwmarkt (Chinatown), in particular, is known for its rambunctious atmosphere.

Amsterdam’s EDM heads know there’s only one place to be on NYE – the Awakenings party at the Gashouder. This epic rave in an industrial gas holder built in 1902 features international DJs (full line-up to be announced this month) and this year keeps on dancing until 8am.

Percolating its way through 25 historical buildings – from 17th-century canal-side mansions to artisans’ workshops – the Pulitzer Amsterdam has soaked up 400 years of stories from previous residents, including grand families and a friend of Rembrandt’s. Bedrooms come in all shapes and sizes, but the mood is one of calm and comfort, with muted pastels and luscious touches of lime and purple. Connects with both the old bones and the vital, contemporary spirit of the city.





The big blowout in Europe’s new capital of cool is at Praça do Comércio, the main square right on the Tagus River. In typically Portuguese fashion, the fiesta runs late: live music starts up at around 10pm and continues after the midnight fireworks. Plenty of locals – armed with their own fizz and plastic cups – can be found drinking and dancing in the heart of the action, so it doesn’t feel like a tourist trap.

Lisbon’s central Bairro Alto district is always a party locale – thank the lax open-container laws – and NYE here is no exception. Partygoers often head here after the Praça do Comércio fireworks, and the neighbourhood is also home to some outstanding fado houses, where you can watch traditional Portuguese music with dinner. Popular spots include O Faia and Cafe Luso– but they’re not cheap.

Catch 360-degree city views from the rooftop bar of Verride Palácio Santa Catarina, which stands in solitary splendour at the top of one of Lisbon’s seven hills. This new hotel, tucked behind a handsome 18th-century façade, combines heritage and contemporary with muted colours, raw linens and pale silks; bedrooms overlook the Tagus at the front.





There are parties on the beaches of Thailand’s islands all year round, but the wildest of them all is New Year’s Eve on Koh Phangan, home to the world’s most famous full-moon party. Revolving around Sunrise Beach in Haad Rin, the maelstrom starts as soon as it gets dark and romps on well beyond sunrise and into the following afternoon.

Go for cocktails and a dinner of freshly caught and grilled fish over on the Sunset side of the island, and don’t even think of joining the party until just before midnight. Then head back to Sunset Beach for a dawn swim.

The stylish Anantara resort is halfway up the east coast of Koh Phangan, some distance from the party, but the journey home, on a boat through turquoise waters as the sun is coming up, might possibly be the greatest taxi ride you’ve ever taken.






It’s practically midsummer in Rio de Janeiro this time of year, which is why many partygoers shun sweaty indoor clubs and take the party to the beach instead. A whopping two million people gather on the 2.5-mile-long Copacabana for samba, Champagne and fireworks on New Year’s Eve – to find a good spot, start staking your place from 10pm. Note that it’s busiest in front of Rio’s landmark hotel, Copacabana Palace, as this is the location for main-stage concerts. It’s customary to wear white in Rio on NYE – said to bring luck for the New Year. But perhaps leave your favourite clothes at home, unless you don’t mind getting doused with Champagne, sprayed F1-style by rapturous crowds.

Lifeguard stations along the beach are called ‘postos’; in-the-know types recommend setting up between Postos 5 and 6. This is the final stretch of Copacabana, so it’s not quite as crowded; plus, it’s walking distance from the parties at neighbouring Ipanema, where many revellers head after the countdown fireworks.

To go all out, Copacabana Palace has exclusive views of the action (and a price tag to match). For something more affordable but with similarly breathtaking views, the Mama Ruisa hotel is a lovely guesthouse with a vintage, homely feel.






The mother of all celebrations in the Mother City is on the V&A Waterfront, where there’s everything you could possibly require in one handy spot: dinner, live music, dancing, fireworks. Plus, there are views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic shore. It’s spectacular – but if you want a party with a more local flavour, you have to head for the sand.

A sunset picnic on Clifton 4th Beach, a gorgeous cove in the affluent Clifton neighbourhood, is a popular choice for Capetonians. Then it’s time to hit one of the city’s many glam beach clubs. The hottest ticket: Pacha’s elite soirée at Grand Africa, on the Grand’s private beach, facing Robben Island.

Sitting atop the V&A Waterfront’s much-feted Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, The Silo is the very definition of a destination hotel. Rooms are a happy marriage of vibrant silks and velvets in deep purple and bottle green, while the ballroom-worthy bathrooms are lit by Egyptian-crystal chandeliers. There’s no other hotel like this in Cape Town right now – certainly nowhere approaching its punchy price tag or bravado.




Happy New Year 2019



Time in Turkey: