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

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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

More Patients At A&E Departments The Day After Christmas And New Year

2 Jan

SINGAPORE : The Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments of hospitals generally see more patients the day after Christmas and New Year, according to Singapore's public hospitals.

They see patients with problems such as food poisoning and allergies.

With most general practitioners closed during the holiday period, doctors said patients should head to the nearest A&E department, if they think their condition will worsen, even though it is not life-threatening.

Singapore's major public hospitals – like Changi General Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital – see an average of 400 patients a day at their A&E departments.

But they said this number goes up some 20 per cent the day after Christmas and New Year.

Dr Gan Han Nee, associate consultant at the A&E department of Changi General Hospital, said: “They wait until the next working day to see a family practitioner or a polyclinic doctor, and when they are seen by these doctors, they are deemed not suitable enough to be treated by these outpatient settings, meaning they are ill enough to be referred to us.”

Besides illness, injuries from falls and drink-driving are common cases attended to at A&E departments during the year-end holidays.

Non-emergency cases can take up to three hours before one gets to see a doctor.

– CNA/ms

Channel News Asia

Body Found Floating On Woodlands Lake

2 Jan

SINGAPORE : The body of a man was found floating on a lake at Woodlands Town Garden.

He was pronounced dead at about 4.30pm on Saturday.

It is understood the body was lying face down on the water, but did not appear decomposed.

The man has yet to be identified.

Police have classified the case as unnatural death.

– CNA/ms

Channel News Asia

Man Struck By Lightning While Playing Golf

2 Jan

SINGAPORE : A man in his early 60s was struck by lightning at about 3.40pm on Saturday, while playing golf at Laguna National Golf and Country Club.

Police said he was with friends who called an ambulance.

None of the others were injured.

The victim is being treated at Changi General Hospital.

– CNA/ms

Channel News Asia

IPhone 4 Users, Did Your Alarm Go Off Today?

2 Jan

SINGAPORE : Some iPhone 4 users got off to a bad start in the New Year when the alarm function of their phones failed to go off, apparently due to a bug in the smart phone's operating system.

The problem was first reported in Australia and New Zealand, which were the first countries to ring in the New Year.

And complaints have come fast and furious on sites such as Twitter.

iPhone user Ameer Assik Shahrir was one of those tripped up by the bug.

He had set his alarm for 7.30am, but woke up only at 8.30am.

He said: “This morning, I was late for breakfast by one hour, I was supposed to meet a few friends.

“If this was a school day, I would have been late by one hour and it wouldn't be good.”

And it wasn't good at all for those who had to work on New Year's Day.

One of them called the Channel NewsAsia hotline.

Alex Lam said: “I set my alarm last night for 6.30 this morning. I only received a call from my colleague at 8am, and that was when I realised I was already late for work.

“I immediately went to work and noticed my colleagues were also late because their iPhone alarms also did not go off.”

According to tech websites, users can avoid the problem by setting the alarm to the “repeat” mode.

The alarm function can apparently revert to normal on January 3.

Sites such as 9to5 Mac also report that only iPhones using specific versions of the iOS 4 operating system – in particular, the 4.2.1, 4.1 and 4.0.2 versions – may be affected. However, the extent of the problem is still unclear.

IPhone maker Apple has not made an official comment yet. But it had promised an upgrade of the operating system soon, following similar glitches in November when the phone's clock failed to register the switch from daylight savings time.

– CNA/wk/ms

Channel News Asia

Cricket: India Ready To Make History In Final S.Africa Test

2 Jan

CAPE TOWN: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Saturday that his team were ready to make history when they face South Africa in the series-deciding third and final Test starting at Newlands on Sunday.

“The good thing with this side is that we know why we can win a series in South Africa,” said Dhoni.

India were in the same situation four years ago when they came to Newlands with the series level at one-all – but Dhoni said the mood in the side was much more confident this time around. South Africa won by five wickets on that occasion and India have yet to win or even share a series in South Africa.

“The dressing room is much better now,” he said. “It doesn't mean that it was bad four years ago but I can say this is the best dressing room that I have felt in the last five years. Most of the guys have achieved a lot in their long Test careers.

“They enjoy their cricket and they enjoy each and every practice session. It feels a very complete dressing room, a very happy dressing room. A lot of credit must go to everyone, including each and every one of the support staff.”

Dhoni said India's success in reaching number one on the Test rankings was based on attention to detail. “We focus on the small things, we prepare well, we make good plans and then we go out to execute those plans.”

It is India's fifth Test tour of South Africa and Dhoni acknowledged: “It's a chance to create history. We did that when we won the first Test in Johannesburg in (December) 2006 when we won in South Africa for the first time.

“We have the talent and the temperament to achieve success in South Africa, although I always say it's not about the past, it's all about the next five days.”

Dhoni said South Africa would be under some pressure. “They are feeling a bit of it because we are the home team and we won the last match.”

South African captain Graeme Smith said his team needed to perform better than they did in the second Test in Durban, which India won by 87 runs. “We were not as focused as we should have been and we lacked a bit of discipline at key moments.”

Smith said the main reason for the loss in Durban was the failure of the batsmen but he said he was confident they would bounce back. “We have had a lot of success as a batting unit but in Durban we seemed to lose our minds. We have spoken a lot about what needs to be done.”

Unseasonal rain swept across Newlands on Saturday morning and South Africa were forced to cancel a scheduled practice although the sun came out later when it was India's turn to train.

There is a 30 per cent possibility of more rain on Sunday morning but the weather is expected to be clear for the rest of the match.

Groundsman Evan Flint said he had hoped for a full day of sunshine to finalise his pitch preparation. “The pitch might be a bit slower and softer than usual at the start of the game but it should be a good batting wicket,” he said.

– AFP/fa

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