22 June 2017 12:18

Trevor Noah, one of the most prominent comedy hosts in the United States, has spoken out against the wider problem of racial bias among police, saying he has been stopped by American officers "eight to 10 times."

Noah, who is South African and hosts "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, made the remarks after a Minnesota police officer was acquitted of all charges over the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Philando Castile last July.

Speaking to the audience between taping segments for the show on Tuesday, the 33-year-old said he had been stopped by police "at least eight to 10 times" in the six years he has lived in the US.

"I've been stopped in rental cars, I've been stopped in my car, I've been stopped in a car with tinted windows, a car with rims, a car with no rims. I've been stopped in a Tesla," Noah said.

"You get to a point where you realize it's just part of a black person's life in America," he added. "It's insane that it's such a normal thing."

The Minnesota officer was acquitted last Friday over the shooting of Castile, who was in the vehicle with his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter.

Castile was initially singled out for a traffic stop because the officer thought he resembled a robbery suspect. 

The officer opened fire while Castile was buckled in his seat, saying he thought Castile was reaching for the gun, which the motorist had earlier volunteered he was carrying legally.

"Whenever I get pulled over, the first thing I do is throw my arms out the window and it looks so stupid when you see me," said Noah.

The United States has been beset in recent years by protests and national debate about allegations of police brutality and institutional racism over a string of deadly shootings of unarmed black suspects.

"Often times in America the conversation gets caught up in racism as it pertains to black and white, but I don't believe that that is the conversation," Noah said.

"I believe that the police force as a whole is trained in such a way that it creates state racism. That is different."

Noah grew up in the South African township of Soweto, the child of a then-prohibited relationship between a black woman and a white Swiss father.


  22 June 2017 11:59

A spinoff movie of the "Star Wars" franchise about the early life of smuggler and crack pilot Han Solo has lost its two directors, the production company behind the project said Tuesday.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller left the project due to creative differences, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said.

Lord and Miller "are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it's become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we've decided to part ways," Kennedy said.

"A new director will be announced soon," said Kennedy, who is also the film's producer.

In a statement, Lord and Miller also cited "creative differences".

"Unfortunately, our vision and process weren't aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren't fans of the phrase 'creative differences' but for once this cliché is true," they said. 

"We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew," they added.

The surprise announcement came as filming is underway at London's Pinewood Studios for the untitled movie, which is scheduled to come out several months ahead of "Star Wars: Episode VIII" in December 2018.

'Culture clash'

Variety magazine — which said the directors had been fired — cited an anonymous source saying that the directors chafed at Kennedy's tight control on the set.

"It was a culture clash from day one," the source told Variety. "She didn't even like the way they folded their socks."

"Kathy, her team and [writer/producer] Larry Kasdan have been doing it their way for a very long time. They know how the cheese is made and that's how they want it made," the source said. "It became a very polarizing set.

In the movie, Alden Ehrenreich stars as Solo, a role that made Harrison Ford a Hollywood superstar in the original 1977 movie and its sequels.

The movie also stars Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover as Solo's pal Lando Calrissian.

The film is set in the period before the original 1977 movie, which was released as "Star Wars" but was later retitled "Episode IV: A New Hope."

This is the second of a series of standalone films that began with "Rogue One," released in December, which earned $1 billion worldwide.

Lord and Miller took over the Han Solo directing job after co-directing the box-office hits "The Lego Movie" and both "21 Jump Street" and "22 Jump Street."

Lucasfilm, founded by filmmaker George Lucas, is the production company behind the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" franchises. It was bought by Disney in 2012.

Agence France-Presse


Tunggul Kumoro  21 June 2017 16:00

November last year, Instagram launched a feature to broadcast live videos to connect audiences in real time and in the moment. Yet, the feature lacked of one thing important: the videos couldn't be replayed and would disappear after streaming, unlike what's offered in Facebook Live or Twitter’s Periscope. But not anymore.

The platform has introduced a new ability to replay your live videos on Instagram by making it available on Stories for 24 hours, giving you the option to "Share" when the broadcast ends. 

Photo: Instagram

Whenever your followers notice a play button in your profile photo, they will know that you've shared a replay. The best thing is that viewers will also be able to see comments and likes that you get during the streaming. The number of viewers will include those who watched it live and in Stories.

Photo: Instagram

This is surely a big update for Instagram as the feature will inspire more people to perform live streaming, knowing they'll be able to go for a bigger number of audience with the videos that can be kept for hours.

It's just surprising seeing how Instagram relentlessly boost their viewership, even after the all the achievements they made until recently. Say, the Facebook-owned photo-and-video sharing app just announced now they have 250 million daily users on Instagram Stories or 25 percent increase since April, leaving their only rival Snapchat that still struggles to surpass single-digit percentages on daily audience growth.


  20 June 2017 12:59

Rap mogul Jay Z will release his latest album at the end of this month, the Tidal music streaming service said Monday, confirming weeks of rumors that the artist was preparing a new project.

The album, titled "4:44", will be available on June 30 exclusively to Tidal subscribers and to customers of Sprint, the telecom giant that bought a one-third stake in the music streaming platform earlier this year. 

The announcement comes on the heels of highly anticipated reports that Jay Z's pop diva wife Beyoncé recently gave birth to twins, making their superstar family a party of five.

A 30-second trailer released late Sunday featuring lyrics from the rapper hinted at the prospect of an album — which was then confirmed just after midnight by Tidal and Sprint.

"Jay Z is a global icon and we're giving customers an incredible opportunity to be among the first to experience his new album 4:44," Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure said in a statement.

Enigmatic promotion efforts began appearing for the project this month when cryptic banners reading "4:44" popped up online and in New York's Times Square.

The signs turned out to be advertisements for a mysterious film available on Tidal featuring the actors Mahershala Ali, Lupita Nyong'o and Danny Glover, for which a black-and-white trailer featuring Ali as a boxer was later rolled out.

The latest clip includes similar visuals and the same soulful electronic score — and this time closes with four lines from Jay Z.

The album will be the rapper's first since 2013's "Magna Carta Holy Grail."

Though fans now have a release date, it remains unclear whether the album and film will be separate entities or a visual album akin to the conceptual "Lemonade" that Beyoncé put out last year.

That intricate project was first released exclusively via Tidal before being offered on Apple's iTunes.

Jay Z bought Tidal in 2014 from Aspiro, a Norwegian company whose shares are listed in Sweden, and has tried to make it the preferred platform for music afficionados through exclusives, original video content and high-quality audio.

But even with the rapid growth worldwide in streaming, Tidal has struggled and remains a small player in a market dominated by Sweden's Spotify.

Sprint's purchase of the Tidal stake for an estimated $200 million surprised many industry watchers, some of whom had doubted the service's long-term health.


  20 June 2017 12:46

by Frankie Taggart

Carrie Fisher had a cocktail of drugs including cocaine and ecstasy in her system when she suffered a fatal mid-air heart attack, a coroner's report revealed Monday.

The "Star Wars" actress — who catapulted to stardom as the space epic's rebel warrior Princess Leia — was rushed to hospital in Los Angeles on December 23 after collapsing on a flight from London and was pronounced dead four days later.

There were quantities of alcohol and opiates in her system, according to the toxicology report, which suggested "exposure to heroin, but that the dose and time of exposure cannot be pinpointed." 

Tests revealed the cocaine would have been taken within the previous three days, according to the report, which gave the cause of death as sleep apnea — a breathing disorder — and "other undetermined factors" including heart disease and "multiple drug intake."

They also showed "remote exposure" to the recreational drug MDMA, better known in its pill form as ecstasy.

A press release from the coroner's office on Friday indicated that drugs were found in 60-year-old Fisher's system, but it did not go into detail.

"Ms. Fisher suffered what appeared to be a cardiac arrest on the airplane, accompanied by vomiting and with a history of sleep apnea," the final report stated. 

"Based on the available toxicological information, we cannot establish the significance of the multiple substances that were detected in Ms. Fisher's blood and tissue, with regard to the cause of death." 

Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, said in a statement released to celebrity magazine People on Friday her mother had "battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life" and "ultimately died of it."


Born in Los Angeles in October 1956, the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher became an international star with the release of "Star Wars" in 1977, followed by two sequels.

The space saga is now part of pop culture legend and a worldwide fan favorite. Fisher was back in the spotlight after reprising her iconic role in 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and will appear for a final time as Leia in "The Last Jedi," due for release in December.

The early 1980s were marked by problems with alcohol, drugs and depression for Fisher, who became known for her searingly honest semi-autobiographical writing.

She turned her best-selling debut "Postcards from the Edge" into a film of the same name in 1990 starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

Over the years she gave various interviews about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and addiction to prescription drugs and cocaine, which she admitted using on the set of "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980).

Asked by Vanity Fair in 2006 how she persuaded "Star Wars" director George Lucas to give her the part of Princess Leia, she said: "I slept with some nerd. I hope it was George."

She also discussed being treated with electroconvulsive therapy, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, to trigger brief seizures and treat depression.

Fisher was returning from the London leg of a tour promoting her headline-grabbing memoir "The Princess Diarist" when she collapsed 15 minutes before landing in Los Angeles, where paramedics and hospital staff were unable to revive her.

Reynolds, who was 84, suffered a fatal stroke the day after her daughter's death.

Agence France-Presse


Petra Hapsari  16 June 2017 03:45

As problems related to radicalism and terror threats are sprouting everywhere in this world including in ASEAN countries, ASEAN Literary Festival 2017 will take on the problem where hundreds of artist, scholars, writers, and officials from more than 30 countries are expected to come up with idea to deal with the issues through the power of words.


The issues to be discussed during the event include terror threats and the rise of ISIS in Indonesia and Philippines, Rohingnya in Myanmar and the freedom of expression.

“We deliberately pick issues such as the freedom of expression, religious radicalism, including discussion on blasphemy law, as well as the rise of terror threat across the region, even the world, to voice our stance as intellectuals to be part of solution,” said the ASEAN Literary Festival program director Okky Madasari.

Hundreds of people belong to militant groups protested last year’s festival in front of its venue since the discussion included certain topics considered controversial such as LBGT and 1965 Communist massacre.

‘Beyond Imagination’ has been chosen as the main theme, reflecting creativity and literacy as essential elements to reach a genuine ASEAN community.

“To be a part of the community means that we have to know each other. How else can we know other people well if not for their culture and life style? And how else we know the culture if not through books and other cultural products such as novels and movies?” she continued.

“We hope that the festival can play a significant role. We believe that culture and literature are the only things that genuinely bind the community. We cannot rely only on the economic and political aspects that will eventually only be rhetoric,” Okky added.

Besides hundreds of artists, writers, scholars, and officials coming from 30 countries including ASEAN countries, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and USA, tens of thousands audience are also expected to attend the event while others might follow it via social and mainstream media.

The ASEAN Literary Festival 2017 will be held at Jakarta’s Old City compound in Indonesia from August 3 to 6.


Tunggul Kumoro  16 June 2017 03:30

Disney Animation Studio has just dropped the debut trailer for the 21-minute featurette, "Olaf's Frozen Adventure", earlier this week.

The new animated short follows the story of Snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), who is on mission to present the finest Christmas tradition for Princesess Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), also Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) in their first holiday season together.

"Olaf's Frozen Adventure" will come to big screen along with Disney·Pixar's Coco on November 22, 2017.



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