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Judge declares mistrial in Bill Cosby trial

Posted on 17 June 2017 by admin

Courtesy: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USA Today Published 9:35 a.m. CT June 17, 2017.

 

 NORRISTOWN, Pa. — The judge in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial has declared a mistrial, several news outlets are reporting.

Deliberations broke off deliberating late Friday after a fifth day with no verdict, but were to resume in an effort to resolve an impasse among jurors.

After the jury retired for the night, Cosby for the first time spoke to supporters outside the courthouse, according to video on Twitter. Earlier in the evening, a group of supporters sent up an impromptu chant of “let Bill go,” punctuated by shouts of “hey, hey, hey,” in the style of Cosby’s Fat Albert comedy character, in a demonstration near the front steps of the courthouse.

When Cosby left the courthouse, he paused and spoke to media cameras, thanking the jury for its work and urging supporters to remain "calm."

The jury has deliberated more than 50 hours since it got the case late Monday. Friday was Day 10 of the trial, another grueling 12-hour day during which an exasperated Judge Steven O'Neill rejected multiple motions for a mistrial from Cosby's defense team while dealing th a slew of questions and requests for testimony read-backs from the jury.

The seven men and five women on the panel announced they were deadlocked on all three counts at lunchtime Thursday but O'Neill sent them back to try again. Repeatedly, the jury has come into court seeking guidance or read-backs; repeatedly he has tried to accommodate them and then sent them back to the jury room.

Meanwhile, Cosby lead defense attorney Brian McMonagle kept demanding a mistrial, arguing that the jury would never be able to reach a unanimous verdict.

O’Neill told McMonagle that he has no authority to interrupt a jury that is actively deliberating, no matter how long they go on. He said McMonagle should provide legal precedents to show when a judge interrupted and ended ongoing deliberations.

"You’ve given me no cases…that a judge has a right to stop a jury from deliberating when they are actively deliberating,” O'Neill said.

McMonagle countered that jurors may believe they are obligated to continue hashing out a unresolvable dispute, following O’Neill’s statement from yesterday directing the body to continue after they announced the deadlock.

But O’Neill did say he “intends to act” if jurors indicate again they are hopelessly deadlocked.

The jury has requested multiple read-backs of trial testimony. They heard extended excerpts of testimony by Cosby in a police interview and a deposition, by accuser Andrea Constand on the stand, and by her mother, Gianna Constand, on the stand. They heard the definition of "reasonable doubt." They re-examined testimony about what Cosby said about his use of the now-banned sedative Quaaludes to give to women he sought for sex.

“Question: When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you would use these Quaaludes to give to women you wanted to have sex with? Answer: Yes. Question: Did you ever give the Quaaludes to women without their knowledge? Answer: No. Question: Did you know at that time that it was illegal for you to dispense those drugs? Answer: Yes.”

Jurors’ eyes were glued to their projection screen as the reading continued. Cosby sat back in his chair, expressionless.

“We’re being asked to review the entire trial,” McMonagle protested.

By late afternoon, O'Neill rejected one of the jury's read-back requests; the material had been read only minutes earlier in another review of testimony. He told jurors they should rely on their “collective memory.”

Before denying the first mistrial motion of the day Friday, Judge O'Neill warned Cosby that if he does declare a mistrial later, and prosecutors retry the case, Cosby cannot then argue a double jeopardy defense.

Later, attorney Gloria Allred, who represents dozens of other Cosby accusers and has been attending the trial, interpreted the jury's interest in the Quaaludes question. "It's good for the prosecution," she said, flatly.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt telegraphed Thursday night the defense motions for a mistrial, t elling a mob of reporters on the courthouse steps the judge should call a mistrial even while the jury was still deliberating.

“We’re in the 40th hour and we can only imagine the emotional and physical toll this has taken on the jurors and we’re just hoping that the judge, if they don’t have a verdict by now, he would release them, and just say that this thing is a deadlock,” Wyatt said.

Cosby, 79, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from an encounter with Constand at his nearby home in 2004. She says he drugged and molested her as she lay helpless on his couch. He says they were lovers and the encounter was consensual.

If he is convicted on even one count, he faces spending the rest of his life in prison.

The jury must be unanimous in voting either to convict or acquit. The jury could potentially vote to convict on some counts and acquit on others but that would likely be an issue for appeal. Or the jury could remain deadlocked and unable to come to a unanimous decision, which would give O'Neill little choice but to declare a mistrial.

District Attorney Kevin Steele, who ran for office promising to pursue Cosby on the long-abandoned case, would then have several months to decide whether to retry Cosby. It took 18 months for these charges to come to trial; another trial would likely take as long, thus making the case even older than 13 years.

It's not clear what the jury's current vote is: Is there only one holdout or more than one? Are the majority for acquittal or for conviction?

 

"The jury can always write a note to the judge what the vote is, but the courts prefer not to have that information," says New York criminal defense lawyer Stuart Slotnick, who's been following the trial. "Sometimes the jury will disclose the vote to demonstrate that the jury is far apart or that they are very close but there is one holdout. Frequently after high-profile cases, some of the jurors speak to the press and disclose all."

 

 

 

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Ranil Jayawardena of Sri Lanka Origin Re-Elected to UK Parliament from North East Hampshire Constituency with 28,000 Votes

Posted on 11 June 2017 by admin

Ranil Jayawardena

London-born Ranil Jayawardena whose father is of Sri Lankan origin, was re-elected from the Conservative Party to the British parliament from the North East Hampshire constituency with a healthy majority of almost 28,000 votes. Jayawardena who first won this seat at the 2015 general election got 65.6 per cent of the votes cast garnering 37,754 votes, up from the 35,573 votes he received in 2015.

His majority this time was slightly diminished but way ahead of his closest rival. Jayawardena who was previously a local councillor serving as deputy leader of the Borough of Basingstoke and Deane before he took to national politics served on the Commons’ Home Affairs Committee after he entered parliament in 2015.

The Labour Party’s Thangam Debbonaire whose father is a Sri Lankan Tamil retained the Bristol West constituency winning almost 2/3rd of the vote in a constituency that saw a huge turn out of 77 per cent.  She gained 47,213 votes over her Conservative Party rival who obtained 9,877 votes.

Rathy Alagaratnam said to have Sri Lankan connections contested as a candidate of the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) but fared badly in a night that proved disastrous for Ukip which did not win a single seat.

Ranil Malcolm Jayawardena was born in London on September 3, 1986. He studied at Robert May’s School, Odiham, Alton College and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He has a brother and a sister.

His wife, Alison is a solicitor and they have a daughter, Daisy. He worked for Lloyds Banking Group and serves as a Member, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council – 2008 to 2015 (Cabinet Member 2011-2015 and Deputy Leader 2012-2015).

"I grew up, went to school and still live in North East Hampshire. The Halifax Quality of Life Index has named it as the ‘Best Place to Live in the UK’, and I want to keep it that way. For me, it is all about representing my constituents and making sure their views are heard", he said in an interview with Sri Express.

Ranil’s father Nalin Jayawardena said that he came to England in the latter part of the 1970s to finish his accountancy exams.  After completing his studies, he worked as a financial regulator. Later, he started his own Financial Consultancy firm.

He met his wife Indira, who is of Indian origin, in the UK. She did her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She works as an Educational Welfare Officer in Hampshire County Council. Ranil is the eldest child. He has a sister, Thushani and a brother, Ravindra.

"Our ancestors had a lot of connections to politics in Sri Lanka. Henry Jayawardane was a Village Council Chairman for Munwatta in the Bulathsinhala electorate. Daisy Abeywickrema had three brothers in politics.

Her elder brother, Simon Abeywickrema, won Udugama electorate and was a Deputy Minister in the D. S. Senanayake government. Her second brother, Henry Abeywickrema won Baddegama electorate and was the Deputy Minister for Transport in SWRD Bandaranaike government. Daisy’s youngest brother Vincent Abeywickrema was a village headman.

 

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UPDATE: Sri Lankan passenger Manodh Marks subdued on Malaysian plane after bomb threat

Posted on 01 June 2017 by admin

Malaysia Airlines plane threat foiled by 'heroes', witness says

  A witness has described how passengers tackled a man who allegedly made a false bomb threat on a Malaysia Airlines plane. Flight MH128, bound for Kuala Lumpur, was forced to return to Melbourne after the man tried to enter the cockpit. The flight landed safely and the passenger was arrested, police said, adding it was not terror-related. One passenger said the suspect was carrying a "very unusual object", which police later said was not explosive. "He ran down the back aisle and three great Aussie heroes wrestled him to the ground and totally immobilised him," the witness, Andrew Leoncelli, told the BBC. The suspect was a 25-year-old Sri Lankan man who was released from a Melbourne psychiatric facility earlier on Wednesday, said Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton. Police initially treated it as a possible terrorism incident before determining it was "a case involving a mental health issue", the commissioner said. Police said the man was carrying a bluetooth speaker or something similar.

Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz bin Kaprawi described it as a "powerbank", the AFP agency said. Mr Leoncelli, a former professional Australian Rules football player, said it had two antennae and what appeared to be a smartphone input. He said the suspect told airline staff he needed to see the captain before becoming "really agitated" and making threats, including making button-pressing motions. "I went back to tell the other passengers there was a real threat here, we need to do something," Mr Leoncelli said. Of the passengers who then overpowered the man, he said: "I cannot tell you their names but they are good fellas." Earlier, Mr Leoncelli told Melbourne's 3AW radio station that the man threatened to "blow the plane up", prompting staff to scream for help. Malaysia Airlines said the Airbus A330, carrying 337 passengers and crew, was in the air for just 30 minutes of its eight-hour flight time before landing. Heavily armed police boarded the plane just before midnight local time (14:00 GMT) and placed the man under arrest. Mr Ashton defended what local media said was a 90-minute delay between the plane landing and police intervention. He said counter-terrorism officers had feared there may be other explosive devices or potential suspects on board. "If we had an incident where there were further explosives that were triggered, we could have had a mass casualty incident," he said. "Decisions had to be made about what was the safest way to get passengers off the plane." Mr Ashton said man had been living in Melbourne on a current visa, clarifying earlier information he was an Australian citizen. A number of flights were diverted following the incident, but the airport confirmed it was operating as normal. (BBC)
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Malaysia Airlines attack: Lankan fails to appear in court.

Courtesy: Daily Mirror.

The 25-year-old Sri Lankan who was accused of threatening to blow up a Malaysia Airlines flight en route to Kuala Lumpur has failed to appear in court as he felt unsafe, International Business Times reported today quoting the lawyer of the accused.

Manodh Marks, a Sri Lankan living in Australia on a student visa, has been charged at the Magistrate’s Court in Melbourne with endangering the safety of an aircraft and making false threats. Both charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

The MH128 flight carrying over 330 passengers was forced to turn back to Melbourne just a few minutes after it took off when Marks tried to enter the cockpit. He had also threatened passengers with a device, claiming it to be explosives.

It was initially thought that Marks was carrying explosives, and the police had termed the incident on the plane as an act of terrorism. However, it was later revealed that Marks was just carrying a "speaker-type" object, authorities said.

Marks had been in custody but his lawyer has said he felt "vulnerable" in detention and asked for medical help.

"He has concerns for his safety in custody. He needs to see a mental health nurse urgently," his lawyer Tess Dunsford said after being questioned by Magistrate Susie Cameron over the reason for his helplessness.

Marks has a history of psychiatric illness and had just been released from a psychiatric facility, before he boarded the flight, police said.

No bail request has been filed on Mark's behalf. The matter has been listed for a committal hearing on 24 August.

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Man threatening to bomb plane is the latest incident to hit beleaguered Malaysia Airlines [Olivia Harris/Reuters].

Passengers feared for lives after man with electronic device threatened to 'blow up' aircraft before being tackled.​

Man threatening to bomb plane is the latest incident to hit beleaguered Malaysia Airlines [Olivia Harris/Reuters]

Armed police stormed a Malaysia Airlines flight that was forced to return to Australia after a passenger tried to enter the cockpit claiming he had a bomb. 

"He was saying: 'I'm going to the blow the f…ing plane up, I'm going to blow the plane up,'" passenger Andrew Leoncelli told Australian Broadcasting Corp on Thursday.

"He was agitated, is the best description, 100 percent he was agitated," Leoncelli said.    

Passengers described fearing for their lives, but Malaysian Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said a Sri Lankan national, who appeared to have been drunk, was overpowered by passengers and crew and later arrested.    

"It is not a hijack. One disruptive passenger tried to enter the plane's cockpit," Aziz told AFP news agency.    

"The passenger… claimed to have a bomb. But it was not a bomb but a powerbank. Everyone on board is safe… He was taken out of the plane handcuffed by Australian security officers."   

Police Superintendent Andy Langdon said the suspect appeared to have a history of mental illness.     

shortly afterwards when the man allegedly threatened those on board, Australian police said.    

"We do not believe this is terrorist-related at the moment," Langdon said.    

While officials tried to play down the incident, passengers told of some 90 minutes of onboard drama and fear after take-off.    

A business class passenger, who identified himself as Andy, told Melbourne radio station 3AW the arrested man had threatened to "blow the plane up".    

"The staff screamed out 'I need some help, I need some help'. So I jumped up, undid my buckle, and approached him."    

Andy said the man ran to the back of the plane, where two other men grabbed and disarmed him of a "giant black thing" and "put hog ties on him".    

Langdon described the experience for passengers as "very traumatic", adding passengers and crew were "heroic".    

Passenger Arif Chaudery said he joined several others to subdue the man.    

"Families, kids, they were very scared, and some screaming … so three or four guys, we jumped as quickly as possible," he told Channel Nine.    

"We just put him on the floor and finally staff brought the belt, so we handcuffed him and tied his legs and put his face on the floor."    

Laura, who asked for her surname to be withheld, told ABC she feared for her life.    

"I thought the plane was going to go down, I thought the bomb was going to go off. I really did think I was going to die," she said.

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Prime Minister Trudeau attends 43rd G7 Summit in Italy

Posted on 27 May 2017 by admin

May 27, 2017.
Taormina, Italy

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today concluded the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Taormina, Italy. While in Taormina, the Prime Minister emphasized Canada’s commitment to fight terrorism in all its forms, advance gender equity, combat climate change, and deliver economic growth that benefits the middle class.

The Leaders signed a joint Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism, and renewed their determination to prevent radicalization and violent extremism, and to bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice. Prime Minister Trudeau highlighted the need for G7 members to refrain from paying ransom to terrorist groups.

Leaders adopted the first G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment to remove barriers to the full economic, political, and social participation of women and girls around the world. Canada is committed to advancing gender equity during its 2018 G7 presidency.

Prime Minister Trudeau reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to take measures to transition to a low-carbon economy, and to implement the Paris Agreement. The Prime Minister emphasized that responsible development of energy resources and meeting goals under international agreements go hand in hand.

The Prime Minister also underlined the importance of fully implementing the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – an important milestone in Canada’s efforts to champion trade deals that create good, middle class jobs and benefit everyone.

In 2018, Canada will hold the G7 presidency. Building on the themes of Italy’s 2017 presidency, Canada will showcase the country’s domestic and international priorities: to build a strong middle class, advance gender equity, fight climate change, and promote respect for diversity and inclusion.

Quote

“At the G7 this weekend, we had some excellent discussions on issues of security, climate change, gender equity, and economic growth that benefits the middle class. We talked about the global anxieties around inequality and how governments must help people deal with the uncertainty of a changing world. On this, I echoed my previous statements, calling on governments to work with their citizens to develop real, lasting solutions, together.”
— Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Quick Facts

  • The Leaders of the G7 – united by common values of freedom and democracy, and respect for human rights and the rule of law – come together each year to discuss issues of domestic and global concern. The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Representatives of the European Union also attend meetings.
  • The G7 dates back to the mid-1970s, and the G7 presidency, which rotates annually between member countries, sets the agenda for the year in consultation with G7 partners. Italy holds the presidency in 2017, and Canada will hold it in 2018.
  • G7 ministerial-level meetings are also held each year to build on the Leaders’ agenda. Italy will convene a total of twelve G7 ministerial meetings in 2017.
  • The Prime Minister met with his counterparts from France, Guinea (Chairperson of the African Union) along with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Japan, United Kingdom, Nigeria, and the United States of America.
  • During the Summit, Leaders committed to address inequality, harness innovation, and help workers bridge skills gaps. They also examined ways to support innovation across economies, and improve access to education and training relevant to today’s changing world and digital economy.
  • The Prime Minister emphasized Canada’s continued support for Ukraine and the need to maintain G7 solidarity regarding sanctions on Russia. Leaders also reaffirmed their commitment on non-proliferation and disarmament, including in North Korea.
  • The Prime Minister is deeply concerned by the unprecedented numbers of people fleeing conflict and persecution globally. Canada is committed to providing assistance and protection for refugees, and to addressing the root causes of their plight.
  • While at the G7, Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan welcomed reaching substantial agreement on an acquisition and cross services agreement, and have agreed to sign it as soon as possible. Such an agreement will facilitate cooperation between Canadian and Japanese forces, notably during joint training exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and United Nations peacekeeping missions.
  • Following the Summit, G7 Leaders issued a joint communiqué on key global priorities and challenges, including countering terrorism and threats to security, driving inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and strengthening the foundations for gender equity and the empowerment of women.

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UK parliament dissolves ahead of election

Posted on 04 May 2017 by admin

London (CNN)The UK parliament officially dissolved at one minute past midnight on Wednesday (May 3) and will not resume work until after the general election on June 8.

UK Parliament approves Theresa May's snap vote 03:05

Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election to strengthen her hand in negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union.

On Wednesday she will visit Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace to gain formal approval for the dissolution.

In late March, Theresa May signed the official letter triggering divorce proceedings with the EU.

In late March, Theresa May signed the official letter triggering divorce proceedings with the EU.

The UK voted almost a year ago to leave the 28-nation EU in a referendum and the so-called Brexit issue is set to dominate the election campaign.

May's Conservative Party is currently leading the opposition Labour Party by a large margin according to the latest opinion polls.

Three polls published at the end of last week suggested that about twice as many people plan to vote Conservative as Labour.

May warns of chaotic Brexit in final Prime Minister's Questions before election

May warns of chaotic Brexit in final Prime Minister's Questions before election

May has been criticized, however, for not taking part in television debates and for only allowing loyal supporters to her campaign meetings.

The Liberal Democrats, UK Independence Party and Scottish National Party trail behind the two main parties.

By law, parliament is dissolved 25 working days before an election takes place.

Lawmakers are stripped of the privileges of being a member of parliament, and if standing for reelection, must campaign alongside other candidates.

Government ministers remain in charge of their departments until after the result of the election is known and a new administration is formed.

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Prince Philip retires from public life in autumn, Buckingham Palace announces!

Posted on 04 May 2017 by admin

Queen's husband to step down from public life in autumn, Buckingham Palace announces!

Prince Philip, who is 95, will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year, Buckingham Palace has announced.

The Palace said in a statement it was the The Duke of Edinburgh's decision taken with the support of the Queen. 

It said: "His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of The Queen. "Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen. Thereafter, The Duke will not be accepting new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time.

Courtesy: London Daily Telegraph

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, smiles during his visit to Lord's Cricket Ground  on Wednesday

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, smiles during his visit to Lord's Cricket Ground  on Wednesday CREDIT: AFP

"The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.

"Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family."

Philip has generally been in good health in recent years and On Wednesday when he opened a new stand at Lord's cricket ground in central London looked relaxed, lively and walked confidently down a flight of uneven steps when he strode onto the outfield.

But it appears the Duke has decided that, now in his advanced years, the time has come to step back from royal duties that can involve extensive travel.

Prince Philip's farewell tour to include Chelsea Flower Show, trip to Ascot and state visit of the King and Queen of Spain

 Robert Mendick, chief reporter – London Daily Telegraph (Courtesy)

The Duke of Edinburgh’s busy ‘farewell tour’ will fittingly include a dinner and reception for the charity he founded and bears his name.

Prince Philip will host a dinner for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in a fortnight’s time and follow that with a Buckingham Palace reception for youngsters who have achieved its gold standard.

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It’s Chinese New Year 2017, year of the Rooster! What’s your zodiac animal?

Posted on 28 January 2017 by admin


Chinese New Year 2017 – The Year of the Rooster – has begun and will last until Feb 15, 2018. 

The new year, also known as the Spring Festival, is marked by the lunisolar Chinese calendar, so the date changes from year to year. 

Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac.

The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 blocks (or houses) just like its western counterpart, but with the major difference being that each house has a time-length of one year instead of one month. 

This year, it's the Year of the Rooster, the 10th animal in the cycle. The next Year of the Rooster will be in 2029.

The personality of the Rooster

People born in the Year of the Rooster are characterised as honest, energetic, intelligent, flexible and confident. But according to Chinese astrology, the year of your sign is believed to be one of the most unlucky years of your life. 

The general image of people in this zodiac sign is that they are hardworking, resourceful, confident and talented.  In addition, their active, talkative and engaging ways make them popular with people. They are happiest when they are in company, enjoying the spotlight. Although they were born with enviable skills, they still have several shortcomings, such as being seen as vain and arrogant with a tendency to brag about their achievements. 

Strengths: healthy, sporty, self-assured 

Weaknesses: a little sensitive, stressed, moody

Lucky Signs for the Rooster

  • Lucky numbers: 5, 7, 8
  • Lucky colours: brown, gold and yellow
  • Lucky flowers: gladiola, cockscomb 
  • Lucky directions: south, southeast

Famous people born under the rooster sign 

Rudyard Kipling, Benjamin Franklin, Prince Philip, Nancy Reagan, Joan Collins, Dolly Parton, ​Michelle Pfeiffer, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Beyonce, Eric Clapton and Yoko Ono.

The years below are a rough guide, but if you were born in January or February it may be slightly different as the new year moves between Jan 21 and Feb 20. The festivities usually start the day before the New Year and continue until the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the new year.   

  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960 
  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961 
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962 
  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963 
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964 
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965 
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966 
  • Sheep: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967 
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968 
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969 
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970 
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971   

What does your Chinese zodiac sign mean? 

In Chinese astrology, the 12 animal zodiac signs each have unique characteristics. 

  • Rat: Intelligent, adaptable, quick-witted, charming, artistic,  sociable. 
  • Ox: Loyal, reliable, thorough, strong, reasonable, steady, determined. 
  • Tiger: Enthusiastic, courageous, ambitious, leadership, confidence, charismatic. 
  • Rabbit: Trustworthy, empathic, modest, diplomatic, sincere, sociable, caretakers. 
  • Dragon: Lucky, flexible, eccentric, imaginative, artistic, spiritual, charismatic. 
  • Snake: Philosophical, organised, intelligent, intuitive, elegant, attentive, decisive. 
  • Horse: Adaptable, loyal, courageous, ambitious, intelligent,  adventurous, strong. 
  • Sheep: Tasteful, crafty, warm, elegant, charming, intuitive, sensitive, calm. 
  • Monkey: Quick-witted, charming, lucky, adaptable, bright, versatile, lively, smart. 
  • Rooster: Honest, energetic, intelligent, flamboyant, flexible, diverse, confident. 
  • Dog: Loyal, sociable, courageous, diligent, steady, lively, adaptable, smart. 
  • Pig: Honorable, philanthropic, determined, optimistic, sincere, sociable. 

Chinese New Year's Day Taboos 

To be avoided on the first day of the Chinese New Year: 

1. Medicine: Taking medicine on the first day of the lunar year means one will get ill for a whole year. 

2. New Year's breakfast: Porridge should not be eaten because it is considered that only poor people have porridge for breakfast and people don't want to start the year “poor” as this is a bad omen. 

3. Laundry: People do not wash clothes on the first and second day because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of Shuishen (水神,  the Water God).

4. Washing hair: Hair must not be washed on the first day of the lunar  year. In the Chinese language, hair (发) has the same pronunciation and  character as 'fa' in facai (发财), which means ’to become wealthy’.  Therefore, it is seen as not a good thing to “wash one’s fortune away”  at the beginning of the New Year.

5. Sharp objects: The use of knives and scissors is to be avoided as any accident is thought to lead to inauspicious things and the depletion of  wealth.

6. Going out: A woman may not leave her house otherwise she will be plagued with bad luck for the entire coming year. A married daughter is  not allowed to visit the house of her parents as this is believed to  bring bad luck to the parents, causing economic hardship for the family.

7. The broom: If you sweep on this day then your wealth will be swept away too.

8. Crying children: The cry of a child is believed to bring bad luck to the family so parents do their best to keep children as happy as  possible.

9. Theft: Having your pocket picked is believed to portend your whole  wealth in the coming year being stolen.

10. Debt: Money should not be lent on New Year’s Day and all debts have to be paid by New Year’s Eve. If someone owes you money, do not go to their home to demand it. Anyone who does so will be unlucky all year.

11. An empty rice jar: A depleted receptacle may cause grave anxiety as the cessation of cooking during the New Year period is considered to be an ill omen.

12. Damaged clothes: Wearing threadbare garments can cause more bad luck for the year.

13. Killing things: Blood is considered an ill omen, which will cause misfortunes such as a knife wound or a bloody disaster. 

14. Monochrome fashion: White or black clothes are barred as these two colours are traditionally associated with mourning.

15. Welcoming the New Year: According to tradition, people must stay up  late on New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year and then let off  firecrackers and fireworks to scare off inauspicious spirits and Nian, the New Year monster.

16. Giving of certain gifts: Clocks, scissors, and pears all have a bad meaning in Chinese culture.  

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Oscar nominations: La La Land scores big

Posted on 24 January 2017 by admin

The candy-coloured love letter to musicals La La Land has landed a record-tying 14 Academy Awards nominations, matching it with Titanic and All About Eve for the most nominations ever.

Several Australians are among the nominees, including Nicole Kidman and Mel Gibson, while Tanna, a Romeo and Juliet-style film set in Vanuatu, scored Australia's first ever nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Australian drama film Lion, which tells the incredible true story of a Tasmanian man's journey to India to find his biological mother, scooped up six nominations.

But La La Land dominated, earning nods for Best Picture, its stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, its songs, and its writer-director Damien Chazelle.

 

Gosling said the film was a "true collaboration".

"I'm very grateful to the Academy for recognising my work in La La Land … to see everyone else's wonderful work on the film acknowledged so generously makes it even more special," he said.

The other nominees for Best Picture are Moonlight, Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, Hell or High Water, Lion, Fences, Hidden Figures and Hacksaw Ridge.

Following two years of #OscarsSoWhite furore, the Academy of Motion Pictures fielded a notably more diverse field of nominees, led by Barry Jenkins' luminous coming-of-age portrait Moonlight, Denzel Washington's Fences and Theodore Melfi's Hidden Figures.

Full list of nominees:

  • Best Picture: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight
  • Best Director: Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
  • Best Actor: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences)
  • Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
  • Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) Dev Patel (Lion), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
  • Best Original Screenplay: Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight
  • Cinematography: Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence
  • Best Film Editing: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight
  • Best Visual Effects: Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Best Production Design: Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail, Caesar!, La La Land, Passengers
  • Best Costume Design: Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling: A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad
  • Best Original Score: Jackie, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers
  • Best Original Song: Audition (La La Land), Can't Stop the Feeling (Trolls), City of Stars (La La Land), The Empty Chair (Jim: The James Foley Story), How Far I'll Go (Moana)
  • Best Sound Editing: Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully
  • Best Sound Mixing: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
  • Best Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, Zootopia
  • Best Documentary: Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life Animated, O.J.: Made in America, 13th
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Land of Mine, A Man Called Ove, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann
  • Best Documentary Short Subject: Extremis, 4.1 Miles, Joe's Violin, Watani: My Homeland, The White Helmets
  • Best Live Action Short: Ennemis Entreniers, La Femme et le TGV, Silent Nights, Sing, Timecode
  • Best Animated Short: Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl, Piper

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When is Donald Trump’s inauguration and what time is it? Everything you need to know

Posted on 18 January 2017 by admin

Courtesy: The Telegraph.

Donald Trump's inauguration is upon us – seeing the 45th President of the United States take office just ten weeks after stunning America and the world by winning the US election He will replace Barack Obama in the White House, but not before a ceremony that dates back to George Washington. The eyes of the world will be on Mr Trump as he takes the Oath of Office, and offers his inaugural address.

When and where is Trump's Presidential inauguration?

Trumps inauguration to become president takes place at noon local time (5pm GMT) on Friday 20th January.

The main ceremony is held at the White House, followed by a number of Inaugural Balls across the city of Washington DC.

The official swearing-in ceremony occurs on the steps in front of the Capitol.

Why is there a gap between US election and presidential inauguration?

The US election was held on November 8 2016, but Donald Trump does not officially become president until midday on January 20.

Until 1933, the new president was inaugurated on March 4, four months after election day.

This was then shortened to around two months with the ratification of the 20th Amendment.

The time between US election and inauguration allows for the incumbent, or 'lame duck', president to tie up any loose ends, and for the incoming president to prepare for his tenure by working on policy and appointing his cabinet.

But the main reason for the delay is to allow for the election to continue. On November 8, members of the public cast their votes – but not directly for who they want to be president. Americans vote for people called 'electors' in their state who are supporting the candidate they want to become president – this process is called the 'Electoral College'.

The more people who live in a state, the more electors there are for that state. The candidate with the most electors wins all the state's electoral college votes and the first candidate to win enough states to get to 270 electoral votes is elected to that office.

Mr Trump was declared officially the president-elect when the Texas votes were counted, pushing him over the 270-vote threshold.

After the December 19 vote, Mr Trump finished with 304 electoral votes and his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton got 227. Seven electors defied convention and went against the popular vote, refusing to vote for either candidate. 

The results from December 19 were confirmed by Congress on January 6.

Eve of the inauguration 

President-elect Donald Trump and vice-president elect Mike Pence will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery on January 19. This will be followed by a "Make America Great Again!" welcome concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

The Oath of Office

At noon local time (5pm GMT) on January 20, Donald Trump will take the Oath of Office and be sworn in as America’s 45th president.

Chief Justice John Roberts of the US Supreme Court will administer the oath on the steps of the United States Capitol Building.

 

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Hollywood star Jennifer Lopez, 47, and Toronto Rapper DRAKE are an item

Posted on 29 December 2016 by admin

Hollywood star Jennifer Lopez, 47, and Toronto Rapper Drake, 30, appear to be an item. A loved-up picture appeared on both of their Official Instagram pages in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and even though it came with no explanation, it seemed to be enough to reaffirm the tryst. The cuddling holiday post won't be something that his ex-girlfriend Rihanna, 28, is waking up to, since it comes just one day after the news that she unfollowed her love rival, this weekend.

 

Drake and Jennifer Lopez have been spending a lot of time together lately. So naturally, when two single and famous people are seen in the same space, romance rumors are are swirling. Apparently, sources are telling TMZ that it’s “only a matter of time” before the two music powerhouses take their relationship to the next level. Though the two are currently just close friends working on music together, Drizzy and J.Lo are “pretty clearly going in that direction,” according to the publication.Dating rumors first sparked when Drake was seen at not one, but two of Lopez’s Las Vegas shows in the span of one week. At the time, the Canadian rapper shared a selfie with the singer on his Instagram, captioning the photo with a “😍” emoji.

Confirmed? Jennifer Lopez and Drake appeared to confirm their relationship on Tuesday, when they posted a cuddling picture to Instagram

Excerpts from numerous media outlets appended below:

  • Confirmed? Jennifer Lopez and Drake appeared to confirm their relationship on Tuesday, when they posted a cuddling picture to Instagram. The 47-year-old mum-of-two was the first to post the snuggling picture, which sees her younger contemporary wrapping both arms affectionately around her neck with one eye staring down the lens of the camera. Jennifer, nestled into his bear-like grasp, seems more restful and is captured with her eyes closed. Early speculation of a romance has led some to question whether Jenny From The Block went against the 'girl code' by dating a fellow musician's ex. Rumours of a relationship were sparked earlier this month when Drizzy attended two of JLo's Las Vegas concerts back-to-back, and hosted an exclusive gathering that she went to.​
  • Look of love: The 30-year-old rapper posted this Instagram shot with J.Lo earlier this month along with an arrow pointing to an emoji face with hearts for eyes captioned, 'Lotta those'
  • An insider told E! News it was an extremely 'intimate dinner' held at celebrity hot spot Delilah in West Hollywood, and the pair reportedly left together.
  • Jennifer and Rihanna who spent Christmas with friends and family in her native Barbados, are longtime pals despite the 19-year age gap.
  • Earlier in 2016, the brunette beauty gave J.Lo a pair of blue boots from her design collaboration with Manolo Blahnik.
  • In a handwritten note to the singer, Rih called Jennifer 'the baddest… because I know you're gonna wear them better than me!!

The J-Lo way: Jennifer reflected on the year gone by, just two days ago but neglected to mention her new love

Sad end: One of the downs is most likely a summer split with Casper Smart, who she was with on and off for five years (pictured here in March)

But 2016 was the year in which Rihanna and Drake were thought to have rekindled the flame, and he supported her on numerous tour dates – including his Summer Sixteen shows in September, and her Anti World Tour shows in April where he appeared. 

Conversely, this year has seen Jennifer end her five-year on and off relationship with beau Casper Smart, 29, who was similarly more than 17 years her junior.

On Boxing Day, Jennifer admitted that 2016 had been filled with its 'ups and downs' as she expressed her gratitude that her 'coconuts' – her eight-year-old twins Max and Emme – were healthy in a social media post about the year gone by.

He wants her back: Marc Anthony (Jennifer's long-term ex-husband, here in November) was thought to be trying to get back with Jennifer in 201

It's over: Jennifer and Marc (here in February 2011) confirmed the end to their marriage in 2014

'I have a ritual every year once everyone is asleep I like to go sit by the tree and think about the year that just went by,' she wrote to her followers.

She went on: 'This year I can honestly say my heart is full – this year had its ups and downs.

'But as I sit here in my living room with my coconuts sleeping soundly upstairs, all of us healthy, a house full of family and friends, I feel surrounded by love and overflowing with gratitude for the many new blessings in my life.'

She neglected to mention any new love interests, especially since this year has reportedly seen ex-husband Marc Anthony try to win her back.

Marc and Jennifer, who share their eight-year-old twins, were married between 2004 and 2014, but his second marriage to Shannon De Lima was confirmed to have ended this November, too.

Rumours of a reunion between Marc and Jennifer were rife in November when they shared a lingering kiss at The 17th Annual Latin Grammy Awards. 

With a history of more than 20 years, Marc and Jennifer initially tied the knot in 2004, when her engagement to actor Ben Affleck ended.

 

Jennifer was previously married to Cris Judd for two years, until 2003 and Ojani Noa for two years, until 1998.

Her pride and joy: She is grateful for what she has, including her two 'coconuts,' twins Max and Emme, aged eight (pictured in March 2015)

Her pride and joy: She is grateful for what she has, including her two 'coconuts,' twins Max and Emme, aged eight (pictured in March 2015)

 

They go everywhere with her: Emme and Max are Jennifer's children from her third marriage to Marc Anthony

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