23 August 2017 11:49

Rockers Linkin Park said Tuesday that they were planning a public memorial for frontman Chester Bennington, a month after he committed suicide.

The band in a Facebook post revealed only that the "special public event" would take place in Los Angeles, saying that more details would be announced later.

"Just wanted to say thank you to all our fans around the world for the tremendous outpouring of love, which has strengthened our spirit during this incredibly difficult time," the band wrote.

Bennington — whose raw, angry metal voice dueled with guitarist Mike Shinoda's hip-hop asides to create the band's "nu metal" sound — was found hanging at his Los Angeles home on July 20.

The 41-year-old had struggled throughout his life with drugs and alcohol and the trauma of child abuse.

Fans around the world have organized dozens of events to remember Bennington after his death, with his shocked bandmates voicing support but not taking part.

Agence France-Presse

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Tunggul Kumoro  21 August 2017 10:10

The government is racing against time ahead of their preparation to host the forthcoming 18th Asian Games in August to September 2018. The renovation of Gelora Bung Karno Stadium (GBK) had been spurred to bring the construction into completion before its deadline in October 2017.

GBK has been selected as the main venue of the Asia's biggest multisport event with the opening and closing ceremonies slated to be staged there as well.

Public Works and Public Housing Ministry that is responsible for preparing the infrastructure, on Friday, has shared a video showing the final design of the stadium and its complex.

Seen in the footage, the projection of the venues, including Istora Senayan indoor sports hall for badminton, indoor tennis arena, athletic field and the main GBK stadium.

The day after, the ministry posted another video displaying the facelift progress.

While some of the venues were spotted around near completion, hockey and football training fields were looked well-anticipated outside the stadium. The restoration on stadium itself had marked its last step with seat installation.

Trillions of rupiah had been spent for improvement project. In its design, GBK which initially had a capacity 90,000 will later be equipped with only 76.187 seats due to the seating installation in the tribune sections. In addition, facilities for disabled audiences were also enhanced with 1,000 seats prepared.

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  14 August 2017 14:42

More than 10,000 people turned out in Aceh on Sunday to stage a record-breaking song and dance performance stressing the need to conserve a threatened national park in the westernmost province.

The men, clad in elaborate black and yellow traditional costumes, sat in neat rows, clapping their hands on their shoulders and laps and moving in an increasingly fast-paced rhythm to a traditional song.

The saman, or "the dance of a thousand hands", is one of the country's most popular. In 2011 it was included in the UNESCO list of items of intangible cultural heritage.

The event was aimed at attracting more visitors to the province, the head of the local tourism agency, Syafruddin, told AFP.

The men, mostly from the ethnic Gayo community, made occasional wave-like movements without breaking formation.

Their song focused on the importance of protecting the province's Mount Leuser National Park, home to rare Sumatran tigers and elephants, which is threatened by rampant poaching and rainforest destruction due to the expansion of palmoil plantations. 

Thousands of spectators flocked to an open field tucked amid lush green hills in Gayo Lues district to watch the performance.

The Indonesian Museum of Record certified it as breaking a national record with 10,001 participants -- beating last year's record of 6,600.

The dance is usually accompanied by a song performed in unison. It emphasises teamwork, a symbol of unity. 

"In the old days the lyrics were usually about spreading Islamic teachings. These days we can adjust the lyrics to deliver any message we wish to convey to the audience," Syafruddin said.

Aceh's international image has been tarnished by its public punishments under Sharia law, such as caning for homosexuality. 

"I am very impressed with the performance, the dancers synchronised very well and it makes me proud as an Indonesian. It was incredible," Sarah, a visitor from Jakarta, told AFP. 

Agence France-Presse

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  08 August 2017 15:25

Trade Ministry said Tuesday it would trade palm oil, coffee and tea for Russian fighter jets, saying it wanted to capitalize on international sanctions on Moscow as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was due to arrive for a visit.

Indonesia and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding to exchange 11 Russian-made Sukhoi fighters for key commodities in Moscow last week, a spokesman for Indonesia's trade ministry said.

"The idea was proposed last year and some people suggested Indonesia should trade the jets with our main commodities," spokesman Marolop Nainggolan told AFP.

The EU and US have targeted Russia with sanctions for alleged meddling in the US presidential election and its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.

However, Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita has said the sanctions, which have forced Russia to seek new markets to import from, could be good news for Jakarta.

"It's an opportunity which should not be lost from our grasp," he said in Moscow last week.

The deal, to be carried out between Russia's Rostec and PT Perusahaan Perdagangan Indonesia, could be an opening for a further bilateral trade deal that extended to energy and aviation, Lukita said.

The exact timeframe and value of the exchange were not clear.

Details of the barter came as Lavrov was to begin his two-day visit to Southeast Asia's biggest economy later Tuesday.

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  07 August 2017 12:38

by Karyn Nishimura-Poupee

When 82-year-old Masako Wakamiya first began working she still used an abacus for maths — today she is one of the world's oldest iPhone app developers, a trailblazer in making smartphones accessible for the elderly.

Frustrated by the lack of interest from the tech industry in engaging older people, she taught herself to code and set about doing it herself. 

The over 60s, she insists, need to actively search out new skills to stay nimble.

"As you age, you lose many things: your husband, your job, your hair, your eyesight. The minuses are quite numerous. But when you learn something new, whether it be programming or the piano, it is a plus, it's motivating," she says.

"Once you've achieved your professional life, you should return to school. In the era of the internet, if you stop learning, it has consequences for your daily life," Wakamiya explains during an AFP interview at her home near Tokyo.  

She became interested in computers in the 1990s when she retired from her job as a bank clerk. It took her months to set up her first system, beginning with BBS messaging, a precursor to the internet, before building her skills on a Microsoft PC, and then Apple's Mac and iPhones. 

She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly, but a repeated lack of response led her to take matters into her own hands.

Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed 'Hinadan' one of Japan's first dedicated app games for the over-60s — she is now in such demand that this year Apple invited her to participate at their prestigious Worldwide Developers Conference, where she was the oldest app creator to take part.

'Source of inspiration'

'Hinadan' — 'the doll staircase' — was inspired by the Hina Matsuri, a doll festival which takes place every March, where ornamental dolls representing the emperor, his family and their guests are displayed in a specific arrangement.

In Wakamiya's app, users have to put them in the correct positions — a task which is harder than it sounds, requiring memorization of the complex arrangements.

The app, which is currently only available in Japanese, has been downloaded 42,000 times with hundreds of positive comments from users. 

And while these figures are relatively small compared to Japan's big-hitting apps which are downloaded in their millions, 'Hinadan' has proved popular enough that Wakamiya plans to release English, Chinese and possibly French versions of the app before next year's festival.

Its success has propelled her on to the tech world stage, despite the industry's reputation for being notoriously ageist

In Silicon Valley, workers in their 40s are considered old by some firms and according to media reports citing research firm Payscale, the median age for an employee at Facebook is 29 and at Apple is 31.

But international tech firms and start-ups are slowly waking up to the economic potential of providing for silver surfers, and Wakamiya has already met with Apple's chief executive Tim Cook.

Wakamiya recalls: "He asked me what I had done to make sure that older people could use the app. I explained that I'd thought about this in my programming -- recognizing that older people lose their hearing and eyesight, and their fingers might not work so well."

"Mr Cook complimented me," she says proudly, adding that he had hailed her as a "source of inspiration".

No time for sickness

Wakamiya concedes that she finds "writing lines of code is difficult" but has a voracious appetite to learn more.

"I want to really understand the fundamentals of programming, because at the moment I only learned the elements necessary for creating Hinadan," she explains.

More than a quarter of Japan's population is aged 65 and above, and this is projected to rise to 40 percent by 2055. The government is struggling to ensure its population remains active and healthy -- and so also see the dynamic octogenarian as an inspiration.

"I would like to see all Japanese elderly people have the same motivation," one official told AFP.

Wakamiya says her ultimate goal is to come up with "other apps that can entertain older people and help transmit to young people the culture and traditions we old people possess".

"Most old people have abandoned the idea of learning, but the fact that some are starting (again) is not only good for them but for the country's economy," said Wakamiya, who took up the piano at 75.

Hinting that her good health is down to an active mind and busy life, she adds: "I am so busy every day that I have no time to look for diseases."

Agence France-Presse

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  28 July 2017 09:24


 

Comedian Stephen Colbert has signed a deal to produce an animated series about US President Donald Trump, reprising a familiar tangerine-colored character from "The Late Show" for an initial run of 10 episodes on Showtime.

The series, set to debut in fall, will also star the president's "family, top associates, heads of government, golf pros and anyone else straying into his orbit," seen through the eyes of an imaginary documentary crew, the channel announced Thursday.

"I know a lot of people wanted to do this, and I'm honored that the Cartoon President invited our documentary crew into his private world," Colbert said in a statement. 

"I've seen some of the footage, and I look forward to sharing the man behind the MAGA," he added, referring to Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again."

Colbert took over "The Late Show" on CBS in late 2015, but only hit top gear after Trump's election.

He beat his main late show rivals Jimmy Kimmel (ABC) and Jimmy Fallon (NBC) this season thanks to his brand of politically charged humor — the first time CBS won the ratings battle since 2010.

Colbert's two-dimensional Trump caricature appeared on a segment during his live coverage of the presidential election last year before becoming a recurring character on his show.

Colbert will team up with Chris Licht, his executive producer on "The Late Show", for the as yet untitled project.

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  26 July 2017 16:14

Ever yearned to swap tales of the sea with "Titanic" stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet?

Well, strap on your life jacket, because the pair are auctioning off a private dinner in their exclusive company for charity, a spokesman for the actor told AFP on Tuesday.

The glamorous date -- planned for a restaurant of the winner's choice in New York City in the fall — is among several lots being offered at the star-studded Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation gala in the French resort of Saint-Tropez on Thursday.

The environmentally-minded charity raised $45 million during its auction last year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Oscar winners DiCaprio, 42, and Winslet, 41, played star-crossed lovers Jack and Rose in James Cameron's 1998 retelling of the sinking of the Titanic, and were reunited in 2009 as a warring couple in "Revolutionary Road."

While saving the planet has been DiCaprio's preoccupation for years, Winslet is involved with charities helping autistic children, as well as organizations for the homeless and disadvantaged people with cancer. 

The lot is the latest example of a burgeoning celebrity trend of offering dinner dates or other face-to-face meetings to raise cash for charity. 

British actor Idris Elba agreed to share Valentine's Day this year with the highest bidder in aid of the "W.E. Can Lead" initiative, which provides education for African youngsters. 

"It is one of the easiest ways for celebrities to contribute," a public relations specialist told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that it generates huge amounts of cash.

Agence France-Presse

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