Box Office: ‘Expendables 3′ Fumbles with $16.2 Million, ‘Ninja Turtles’ Tops Charts


The Expendables 3″ looked like a franchise that needs to be put out to pasture after the latest film in the action junkie series debuted to a scrawny $16.2 million this weekend, according to studio estimates.

“Expendables’” lack of muscle allowed “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to retain the box office crown it wore last weekend. Paramount Pictures’ reboot of the reptile martial artists series grabbed first place on the charts with $28.4 million in its sophomore weekend. That brings its domestic total to $117.6 million.

Another holdover, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” scored runner-up status. The comicbook adaptation pulled in $24.7 million, driving its total domestic box office to $222.3 million. It looks like it will end up as the summer’s top grossing domestic release, passing “Transformers: Age of Extinction’s” $243.3 million haul.

“Expendables 3’s” opening was a low-point for Sylvester Stallone’s geriatric heroes on a mission pictures. The original film launched »

 

Rehman Malik presents evidence against Sharif brothers


Rehman Malik presents evidence against Sharif brothers

LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader, Rehman Malik on Monday presented what he said was evidence of money laundering against the Sharif brothers and alleged that the money earned through it was transferred to Saudi Arabia, Geo News reported.

While addressing a press conference here today, Rehman Malik told the media that he is presenting his complaints and evidence before the Supreme Court and Election Commission of Pakistan.

He also claimed to quit his political career if failed to prove the allegations.

Rehman Malik said the Sharif brothers transferred the cash outside Pakistan and was deposited in an account titled as ‘Qazi’. In 1998, the amount was transferred to Hudaibiya accounts.

The PPP leader further said that more names will be revealed in money laundering case and complained that immediate actions had been initiated against PPP.

He said that Ishaq Dar has already admitted that Shahbaz Sharif asked to convert dollars into local currency.

Baby born weighing 15lb 7oz


Baby born weighing 15lb 7oz

Baby born weighing 15lb 7oz 

A baby has been born weighing 15lb 7oz.
George King popped out of his mother Jade Packer, 21, at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in South West England at twice the average weight of a newborn and despite only being given a 10 per cent chance of survival, he is now back home in Cheltenham six weeks later.
Jade told the Bristol Post newspaper: ‘It was a massive shock for everyone – no one had any idea he would be this big,’ Ms Packer told the Bristol Post. ‘During the pregnancy I was just getting bigger and bigger.
‘It makes it even more special to have him home now after all he has been through.’
But Jade has now been put off having any more children after enduring a 16-hour labour.

New Zealand legalises same-sex marriage


New Zealand legalises same-sex marriage

The moment same-sex marriage became legal in New Zealand

New Zealand’s parliament has legalised same-sex marriage, the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

Lawmakers approved the bill, amending the 1955 marriage act, despite opposition from Christian lobby groups.

The bill was passed with a wide majority, with 77 votes in favour and 44 against.

Hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates celebrated outside parliament after the bill was passed, calling it a milestone for equality.

People watching from the public gallery and some lawmakers immediately broke into song, singing the New Zealand love song “Pokarekare Ana”, AP news agency reported.

Some opinion polls have suggested that about two-thirds of New Zealanders support the reform, although others polls suggest the public are more divided.

Parliamentarians were allowed a conscience vote, and, crucially, the reform had the backing of both the Prime Minister John Key and leader of the opposition David Shearer, the BBC’s Phil Mercer in Sydney reports.

Celebrations have been held in pubs and clubs in the capital Wellington, our correspondent adds.

Same-sex civil unions have been legal in New Zealand since 2005.

‘Human rights’

“In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal – it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person,” Labour MP Louisa Wall, who introduced the legislation, said.

“Start Quote

Historically and culturally, marriage is about man and a woman”

Bob McCoskrieFamily First

“Nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill,” she added.

Drag artist Jake Andrew said he learned of the news at a club in Hamilton.

“We cheered, yelled, cried and sang – it was just amazing,” he told the BBC.

“I am so happy, not only because I can now marry the person I love, but because New Zealand has moved a step further towards gay and lesbian people becoming completely equal with the rest of our society.”

Tania Bermudez and Sonja Fry, a same-sex couple, said the bill was about human rights.

“It means that we can actually call each other wife,” Ms Fry said.

However, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig said there were many people who disagreed with the bill.

“We’re seeing the politicians make a decision tonight that the people of this country wouldn’t make,” he said.

Bob McCoskrie, founder of the lobby group Family First, said the bill undermined the traditional concept of marriage.

“Historically and culturally, marriage is about man and a woman, and it shouldn’t be touched,” he said.

Celebrations begin at the Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret venue after New Zealand MP's gathered today to vote on the gay marriage bill at Parliament House on 17 April 2013People gathered in bars and pubs to watch the vote and celebrate the results

New Zealand becomes the 13th country to legalise same-sex marriage.

Other countries include the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Argentina and Uruguay.

French and British lawmakers have also voted in favour of legislation allowing gay marriage, although the bills have not yet been passed into law.

No other country in the Asia-Pacific region allows gay marriage.

Australian members of parliament overwhelmingly voted against a bill that would have legalised same-sex marriages in September. However, some states allow civil unions for same-sex couples.

China does not allow gay marriage. However, transsexuals who have undergone surgery are able to marry someone of the opposite sex, provided their new gender is verified by the local public security authorities.

Map showing countries and states which allow gay marriage

Facebook Reaches 1 Billion Users : The Biggest Social Network On Planet


 

Today morning Facebook has announced publicly and by none other than Mark Zuckerberg himself.  Here is the full post on Facebook.

This morning, there are more than one billion people using Facebook actively each month.
If you’re reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you.
Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.
I am committed to working every day to make Facebook better for you, and hopefully together one day we will be able to connect the rest of the world too.


One billion – key metrics
Facebook reached 1 billion monthly active users on September 14 at 12.45 PM Pacific time.

Since Facebook launched, we’ve seen:

Over 1.13 trillion likes since launch in February 2009

140.3 billion friend connections

219 billion photos uploaded

  • Data was pulled on 9/10/2012, and represents the total # of photos currently on this site – in other words, it excludes deleted photos.  If we wanted to include all photos ever uploaded, the estimate we have is 265 billion. Photo uploading launched fall 2005
  • 17 billion location-tagged posts, including check-ins
  • Includes location-tagged posts as well as check-ins. Data was pulled 9/10/2012, and represents total location-tagged posts & check-ins since launch of the product in August 2010
  • 62.6 million songs have been played 22 billion times – that’s about 210,000 years of music
  • Data was pulled on 9/11/2012, and represents song plays since the launch of music-listening applications in September 2011

Characteristics of users joining the week Facebook hit 1B

  • The median age of the user is about 22
  • The top five countries where people connected from at the time we reached this milestone were Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States (NOTE: in alphabetical order)
    Facebook now has 600M mobile users

Characteristics of users joining the week Facebook hit 500M users (July 2010)

  • The median age of the user at that time was about 23
  • Top five countries where people connected from at the time we reached this milestone were Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and the United States (NOTE: in alphabetical order)
  • Users signing up at this time now have an average of 305 friends

Characteristics of users joining the week we hit 100M (August 2008)

  • The median age of the user at that time was about 26
  • The top five countries where people connected from at the time we reached this milestone were Chile, France, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States (NOTE: in alphabetical order)
    The user signing up at this time now has an average 334 friends

Characteristics of users joining the week Facebook hit 50M users (October 2007)

  • The median age of the user signing up at this time was about 26
  • Top five countries where people connected from at the time we reached this milestone were Australia, Canada, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States (NOTE: in alphabetical order)
  • Users signing up at this time now have an average of 321 friends

Characteristics of users joining the week Facebook hit 25M users (January 2006)

  • The median age of users signing up at that time was about 19
  • The top five countries where people connected from at the time we reached this milestone were Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States (NOTE: in alphabetical order)
  • Users who signed up at this time now have an average of 598 friends

 

‘Barfi’ is India’s Oscar entry


MUMBAI: Anurag Basu’s “Barfi!”, a Bollywood love story about a deaf-and-mute man and his autistic friend has been chosen as India’s entry to the Academy Awards in the best foreign language film category, the Film Federation of India (FFI) said on Saturday.

“Barfi!” opened to rave reviews in September despite its unusual theme in an industry dominated by soppy romances or family dramas. Critics praised performances by the film’s lead actors Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.

“Usually films about handicaps are heavy, but we felt Barfi was very lively,” L. Suresh, a member of the jury and former FFI president, told Reuters. “It doesn’t make you sad at all.”

Twenty films were in the running for the coveted nomination and “Barfi!” was chosen out of the five films that made the shortlist.

“It gives us great satisfaction that a film we have developed and nurtured from its inception has met with so much love from audiences and critics worldwide,” Siddharth Roy Kapur, Managing Director at Studios Disney UTV, said in a press release.

An Indian film has never won the Best Foreign Language film Oscar but “Lagaan”, “Salaam Bombay” and “Mother India” were shortlisted for the award. -AGENCIES

Philippines rushes aid to 850,000 people affected by floods


MANILA: Emergency workers and troops rushed food, water and clothes to nearly 850,000 people displaced and marooned from deadly floods spawned by 11 straight days of southwest monsoon rains that soaked the Philippine capital and nearby provinces.
About 60 percent of Manila, a sprawling metropolis of about 12 million people, remained inundated on Wednesday, Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency, told Reuters,
Eleven people were reported killed on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 64 since steady rains started when Typhoon Saola hit northern portions of the main Luzon island in late July.
Financial markets reopened after being shut on Tuesday, but schools and many businesses remained shut for a second straight day with the military, police and civic officials struggling to deliver aid as water swept through the city turning major roads into rivers.
Still, many people were reluctant to leave flooded homes, fearing a loss of valuables, officials said.
“We’re also asking people living along swollen riverbanks to evacuate,” Ramos said. “If there is a need for us to force them to leave their homes, we will do that for their own safety.”
Jesse Robredo, the interior secretary, said the government has started drawing up plans to permanently relocate residents along riverbanks and coastal areas to reduce property and human losses during the rest of the typhoon and monsoon season.
The national disaster agency said on Wednesday morning it had distributed food, water, clothes and medicines to people marooned inside flooded homes and at temporary shelter areas.
“We were hoping to go home because it’s difficult here. The sleeping conditions are not comfortable, and it’s not easy to get food,” Joyce Anne Diri, a mother of three, told Reuters at a temporary shelter in flooded Marikina City in the eastern part of the capital.
The seasonal monsoon rains in the Philippines gathered strength this year from Typhoon Saola and as tropical storm Haikui travelled through the Philippine Sea this week. But the rains should dissipate by Thursday, the weather bureau said, as Haikui made landfall in China.
On Wednesday, the weather bureau lifted the rainfall alert level even as the volume of rainfall in the last 24 hours rose to 390 mm (15.3 inches) from 323 mm in the previous day.
The highest recorded 24-hour rainfall was 454 mm in September 2009, inundating 80 percent of the capital and resulted in the death of more than 700 people and destruction of $1 billion worth of private and public property.
The combination of almost two weeks of constant rains and an overflowing lake that fed into the Pasig River, a tidal estuary swollen well beyond flood crest, was made worse as the high tide pushed in more water from the western ocean bay.
“We’re still concerned about the situation in the coastal areas,” Ramos said after conducting an aerial survey of hard-hit areas. “It was difficult to distinguish the sea from the flood waters.”
Four provinces near Manila were placed under a state of calamity, including the rice-growing provinces of Bataan and Pampanga.
The farm department estimates the damage so far to crops, mainly rice, at 152 million pesos ($3.6 million). – AGENCIES

China cracks down after Internet coup rumours


Illustration photo shows people at an Internet cafe in China. China's two most popular microblogs, Sina Weibo and Tencent QQ, on Saturday blocked web users from posting comments on the sites, saying they were acting to stop the spread of rumours.

China has shut down websites, made a string of arrests and punished two popular microblogs after rumours of a coup linked to a major political drama that led to the fall of a rising star.

Authorities closed 16 websites for spreading rumours of “military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing,” the official Xinhua news agency said late Friday, citing the state Internet information office.

Six people were arrested, while the country’s two most popular microblogs, run by Sina.com and Tencent, said they would stop web users from posting comments until Tuesday after being criticised by the authorities.

The crackdown follows a surge in online rumours about a coup led by security chief Zhou Yongkang, following the March dismissal of rising political star Bo Xilai.

Analysts say the political drama has exposed divisions in the ruling Communist Party as it prepares for a key leadership transition later this year.

Bo, removed as party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing after his former police chief fled to a US consulate and reportedly demanded political asylum, had been tipped to join the country’s top echelons of power.

In an editorial Saturday, the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, pledged to punish those responsible for the “lies and speculation”.

“Online rumours undermine the morale of the public, and if out of control, they will seriously disturb the public order and affect social stability,” said the newspaper, according to Xinhua.

Xinhua reported the website closures late Friday, naming some of the sites involved as meizhou.net, xn528.com and cndy.com.cn, saying they had been shut in accordance with laws for failing to stop the spread of rumours.

The six people arrested were held for “fabricating and spreading” rumours, “particularly through microblogging posts,” said Xinhua, citing the Beijing municipal bureau of public security.

Sina.com and Tencent, who run popular microblogs known in China as weibos, had carried online chatter speculating about a coup and were “criticised and punished accordingly”, a spokesman for the state Internet information office said, according to Xinhua.

The spokesman said both sites had pledged to “strengthen the management” — and just hours later the Internet giants announced they would block users from posting on the microblog services.

“Rumours and illegal, harmful information spread via microblogs have had a negative social impact and the comments contain a large amount of harmful information,” said a message on Tencent’s website.

“From March 31, 8:00 am to April 3, 8:00 am, weibo’s comment function will be temporarily suspended,” said Sina, whose weibo service is China’s most popular.

China blocks all information deemed sensitive under a vast censorship system known as the “Great Firewall”, but the huge rise of weibos is making this task increasingly difficult.

Censors had previously blocked all forms of search on the weibos for terms linked to Bo.

Aside

TOKYO: Don’t mess with Japanese honeybees. Not only do they cooperate to attack their enemies, researchers now say their brains may actually be processing and responding to the threat.

When confronted with their arch-enemy, the aggressive giant Asian hornet, the honeybees will attack it by swarming en masse around the hornet and forming what scientists call a “hot defensive bee ball” – a move unique to their species.

With up to 500 bees all vibrating their flight muscles at once, the bee ball cooks the hornet to death.

While this defensive maneuver has been known for some time, the mechanism behind it has been shrouded in mystery. But researchers at Japan’s University of Tokyo, through study of the bees’ brains, have now found that neural activity in bees taking part in the attack picks up.

“When the hornet, the Japanese honeybee’s natural enemy, enters a colony, the bees quickly form a ‘hot defensive bee ball,’ trapping the hornet inside and heating it up to 46 degrees C (115 F) with their collective body heat,” said Atsushi Ugajin, a University of Tokyo graduate student.

He said that while the high temperature phase lasts about 20 minutes, it often takes up to an hour before the hornet dies inside the ball.

Set off if bees posted as “guards” at the entrance to the colony detect an intruder, the move evolved because the bee’s stingers aren’t strong enough to penetrate the hornet’s tough exo-skeleton, researchers said.

The research team, whose latest research on the phenomenon appeared in the scientific journal PLoS ONE in mid-March, was astounded by the fact that the collective heat generated by the group, while fatal for the hornet, leaves the bees unaffected.

They were also surprised that the bees used perfectly coordinated teamwork during the process, said Takeo Kubo, a professor at the University of Tokyo graduate school.

“When an outsider enters, the honeybees are immediately on their guard. Then, all at once, they gather to attack,” he said.

“So, it isn’t one commanding all the rest, we believe in this moment of emergency they’re acting collectively.”

Curious about why the bees attack this way, the researchers examined their brains and found that neural activity increased in the bees involved with the bee ball, apparently reflecting processing of thermal stimuli.

The group also said that while this discovery may seem to demonstrate that the Japanese honeybee is “smarter” than its European counterpart, this is not the case – it’s merely a matter of development in response to environmental factors.

“When a member of the colony, a worker drone, is killed, this is a grievous loss for the hive. Evolution has reacted in this way (for their survival),” said Masato Ono, a Japanese honeybee and hornet expert who was also part of the study.

And many fundamental unknowns remain.

“One of the great mysteries for us is how animals’ brains have evolved and how they operate,” Kubo said. “This will be for us the next great puzzle to examine

Japan bees cook enemy in ‘hot defensive bee ball’