2011 in review

4 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 43,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

2012 in review

4 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Football: Ronaldinho Set For Milan Exit, Says Allegri

2 Jan

ROME : Ronaldinho is set to close the door on his AC Milan career after leaving their winter training camp in Dubai, coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed on Saturday.

The 30-year-old Brazil international is reportedly poised to return to his homeland to re-join formative club Gremio, having fallen out of favour at Milan this season.

“We are waiting for his departure to become official,” Allegri told Sky Italia.

“Maybe there was a lack of willingness on his part.

“I was convinced that Ronaldinho could have a great season. He started well, with a balanced side, but then everyone has to take their own responsibility.”

Ronaldinho joined Milan from Barcelona in 2008 but despite occasional flurries of his best form, he lost his place in the starting XI after Milan signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho last summer.

- AFP/ms

Channel News Asia

Fewer People Caught Littering On New Year's Eve

2 Jan

SINGAPORE : Fewer people were caught littering on New Year's Eve compared to the previous year.

National Environment Agency (NEA) officers were on the prowl for litterbugs islandwide. At the end of their blitz on Friday night, 74 littering tickets were issued, down almost 40 per cent from last year's figure of 116.

During NEA's Orchard Road blitz, the first culprit nabbed turned out to be a tourist, who was let off with a warning.

Otherwise, first-time offenders could be fined S$300 for throwing items like sweet wrappers and cigarette butts. Larger items like food wrappers and drink cups warrant a higher penalty of S$1,000, plus a Corrective Work Order.

At the stroke of midnight at Orchard Road, people unleashed spray cans of foam and confetti everywhere. Cleaning companies were given the tight deadline of cleaning the area by Saturday morning.

The NEA said it does not generally take action against those who use party spray cans during festive periods, but asked that the items be disposed of properly.

At the end of the Orchard Road blitz, eight people were caught.

Teh Chun Siong, manager of operations at National Environment Agency, said: “Most people are taking more responsibility not to litter this year; they are continuing to keep the environment clean and green.

“NEA also worked with event organisers to put in more additional workers to keep the place clean and empty bins throughout the event.”

With more workers on shift on Friday night, cleaning contractors got busy right after the partying.

Alia Jiffry, public relations officer at Purechem Veolia Environmental Services, said: “(The items included) cans, bottles, tissue paper. But the most challenging for us are the planted areas, because our workers have to go there and dig up all the litter.”

By 6am, refuse collected in Orchard Road amounted to 2.8 tonnes, significantly less than the 3.7 tonnes collected last year.

- CNA/ms

Channel News Asia

The Babies Who Came Just In Time…

2 Jan

SINGAPORE : New Year celebrations took on a new meaning for some families, as they welcomed a new member to their families.

Four babies – all boys – were born at the stroke of midnight.

The policy to allow babies of mixed parentage to use double-barrelled race identities also kicks in on Saturday.

Not everyone can claim that their birth was greeted with fireworks, but little Damien Foong can.

His father Donovan said the family were watching the countdown show on television, while counting down too, to the birth of their second child at Mount Alvernia Hospital.

In a nearby ward, another boy was delivered at the same time.

Lucius is the first-born for Alvin and Lynn Lim, and his name means “light” in Latin, symbolising the hopes his parents have for him.

His father, Alvin Lim, said: “To be a righteous, honourable guy, better than his dad.”

Harris Asryani was delivered naturally at Thomson Medical Centre. His parents are Madam Elly Khai Rani Lubis and Juhai Di Khai Rani Jumadi.

Over at Gleneagles Hospital, five-year-old Chantal Yeo has a little bonding session with her newborn brother.

The baby has not been named yet, and he is not the only one in his family with a unique birthday – Chantal was born on August 9, Singapore's National Day.

Down the hall, Chew Kok Cheong plants a light kiss on his newborn daughter, Valerie. She is the first child of Mr Chew and his wife, Madam Nur Farhannah Aslam.

Valerie is among the first babies in Singapore to have the race of both parents reflected in her identification papers.

Her parents said that ultimately, it is about letting their child know about her heritage.

Nur Farhannah Aslam said: “We plan to put her race as Chinese-Pakistani, because my dad is a Pakistani. Singapore is a multi-language society, so maybe she can learn more from our cultures.”

Both Mr and Mrs Chew plan to enrol Valerie in a Chinese-language school in future, but they said Valerie will still be taught Malay.

- CNA/ms

Channel News Asia

Japanese Diva Hamasaki To Marry Austrian Actor

2 Jan

TOKYO : Japanese pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki will marry Austrian actor Manuel Schwarz this month, reports said on Saturday.

Hamasaki, 32, and Schwarz, 30, met in Los Angeles in August while make a promotional video for her song Virgin Road, Japanese media said.

He played her groom in the video.

“Mannie, who played my husband in Virgin Road, will become real husband in real life!!!!!,” Daily Sports quoted Hamasaki as telling fans on a members-only website.

Schwarz lives in the United States, according to Jiji Press news agency.

- AFP/ms

Channel News Asia

The World Bids 2010 Farewell

2 Jan

NEW YORK: About a million people crammed Saturday into New York's Times Square to greet 2011 in a global New Year's party featuring spectacular fireworks but marred by bloodshed in Africa.

Celebrations kicked off in the Pacific and continued in a non-stop, globe-girdling chain of street parties and fireworks.

Times Square was one of the last big bashes, following joyful gatherings at world landmarks including the London Eye, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, the Champs-Elysees in Paris and Red Square in Moscow.

New York crowds, monitored by a heavy police presence, watched the famous slow drop of a six ton ball comprising 32,256 LED lights and 2,688 Waterford crystals to signal the end of 2010 and start of the new year.

Worldwide parties began in the Pacific Ocean and spread across Oceania, Asia and the Middle East before the clocks turned midnight across Europe from Moscow to Reykjavik, and then across the Atlantic to the Americas.

But the party mood was spoiled in Africa.

In the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria, at least seven people died and 24 were injured in an attack on a church as worshippers left a service at around half an hour after midnight. Witnesses reported a burnt-out car outside.

And in Nigeria a bomb killed four and wounded 12 at a market inside the Abacha military barracks in Abuja, a popular spot for food and drink in the Nigerian capital on New Year's Eve.

There was also a sour note in Russia, where President Dmitry Medvedev promised an “open and friendly” country, but police marked the night by arresting some 120 Kremlin opponents at rallies in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

In Europe, the London Eye wheel was lit up by a colourful firework salvo as an expected 250,000 people lined the River Thames embankments.

Meanwhile at Edinburgh's traditional Hogmanay street party, tens of thousands linked arms to sing “Auld Lang Syne” as fireworks exploded above the city castle.

In Paris, an estimated 235,000 people were on the Champs-Elysees with a further 35,000 around the Eiffel Tower.

In Madrid, thousands crammed Puerta del Sol square as green lights spelt out “Feliz 2011.”

Revellers followed Spanish tradition and ate 12 grapes, one for each chime of the clock as it marked midnight, to ensure good luck in the coming year.

Nearly 700,000 people braved the freezing streets of Vienna with some taking a chartered jet to witness the palatial city celebrate from above.

In the Middle East, Dubai stole the show on the Arabian peninsula with an unprecedented spectacle at the world's tallest building.

The Burj Khalifa was the centre of attention with a spectacular laser, lights, fountains and fireworks show which marked the 828-metre (2,717-foot) tower's first anniversary.

Then the party in the Americas got off with Rio de Janeiro, which staged a music and fireworks spectacular on the beach.

But honours for first party went to the 6,000 residents of the tiny Pacific nation of Kiribati, while New Zealand's Auckland was the first to party with a major fireworks extravaganza.

Australia then rung in 2011 with a fiery waterfall plunging from Sydney's landmark Harbor Bridge as seven tons of fireworks ignited in the night sky, thrilling 1.5 million people crammed on the city's foreshore.

Party-goers began descending on Sydney harbor more than 12 hours in advance, with new arrivals turned away as early as 3:00 pm.

In Asia hundreds of thousands of people gathered to watch a glittering fireworks-and-laser display along neon-lit Hong Kong's harbour. Dozens of boats also moored in Victoria Harbor for the intense five-minute display.

In Japan millions of people visited Shinto shrines to “purify” themselves.

Although Lunar New Year is a much bigger event in the continent, thousands braved Beijing's cold for the countdown at an up-market shopping centre, while an expected 7,000 people saw a kite-flying event in central Shanghai.

In Myanmar, democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, released this year after more than seven years of house arrest, called for the country's people “to struggle together with new strengths, new force and new words in the auspicious New Year”.

Revellers in India's financial and entertainment capital Mumbai — scene of a 2008 attack that killed 166 people — were given the go-ahead to party through the night despite intelligence about a possible militant strike.

Police were on high alert for attacks in major cities in Pakistan, where New Year celebrations are traditionally quiet, private affairs.

-AFP/wk

Channel News Asia

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