Sunday, 11 March 2018

Best Animated Movies for Kids

My Neighbor Totoro
Hayao Miyazaki is often referred to as the “Walt Disney of Japan” and Studio Ghibli—the film and animation studio he co-founded—is known for turning out hits as reliably as Pixar. One of Ghibli's earliest works is not to be missed by parents or children. “My Neighbor Totoro” follows the story of two sisters who move to an old house to be closer to their hospital-ridden mother. The creatures that fill the house and the surrounding woods were seemingly drawn with the explicit purpose of melting your heart. We dare you to watch the movie and not wish for a totoro—a cross between a Russian nesting doll and a rotund rabbit that likes to wear leaves for hats—of your very own.

Beauty and the Beast
As the crown jewel of the Disney Renaissance, “Beauty and the Beast” has been at the top of best-of lists since it was released to universal critical acclaim in 1991. It was the first animated movie to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, along with five other categories. The fact that it won Best Original Score and Best Song is a testament to the musical genius of the soundtrack. But it is Belle, whose bravery and independence helped redefine the meaning of a Disney princess, that truly makes the movie. Bookish and fairly odd (as we are told by an entire singing village), Belle continues to serve as an inspiration to girls who feel most at home in the library.

The Lion King
When we asked our Twitter followers to name their favorite animated movie, the overwhelming answer was “The Lion King.” This animal tale was the first Disney animated feature to be made from an original story rather than an existing fairy tale. And despite featuring the most tear-jerking death scene since “Bambi,” “The Lion King” has won over audiences and critics alike. It is the 18th highest-grossing movie of all time and snagged two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Song and a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in the musical or comedy category. It’s good to be the king!

The Iron Giant
Before joining with Pixar to make family faves like “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille,” Brad Bird worked on a little gem called “The Iron Giant.” This retro-cool picture has the heart of "E.T." and the sensibility of a ‘50s sci-fi flick. The story follows a lonely boy who discovers a giant robot. Although it is set during the Cold War, the family portrayed here is thoroughly modern with both single parents and blended families represented. While “The Iron Giant” did not get any Golden Globes or Oscar love—the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was only established in 2001—it did go on to win a slew of science fiction awards, including a Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and several Annie Awards, which are given for accomplishments in animation.

You may not be aware of just how much this subversive little fairytale changed the landscape of animated movies. “Shrek” set the trend for a script embedded with adult-oriented jokes and obvious pop culture references—a formula that practically every CGI film has followed since. “Shrek” won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and all three sequels in the franchise populate the list of the highest-grossing films of all time.

Spirited Away
This is yet another brilliant offering from Miyazaki. Like everything from Studio Ghibli, “Spirited Away” is a sumptuous visual feast. The film follows ten-year-old Chihiro who, after witnessing her parents transformed into pigs, must navigate a spirit world; think “Alice in Wonderland” set in a Japanese bathhouse. Along with critical accolades, “Spirited Away” took home the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, making it the only international movie to do so, to date.

Finding Nemo
If you have young children, you probably own “Nemo.” That’s because after only a decade after its release, this touching film has already established itself as a timeless classic. But the lasting appeal isn’t all that surprising, given that “Finding Nemo is the 23rd highest grossing movie of all time. We love the portrayal of neurotic single-dad Marlin who, like any parent, would go to the ends of the earth—or ocean—to find his son. “Finding Nemo” earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Simon Cowell insults a fan in New York City

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Halloween 2017: The reasons we celebrate today and why children trick-or-treat

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What is Halloween?

Well, Halloween or Hallowe'en (a contraction of All Hallows' Evening), also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a spooky celebration observed every year in a number of countries on October 31 - the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day, also known as All Saints' Day. In 2017, Halloween falls on a Tuesday.

The Americanised (Americanized?) Halloween that we experience today actually originated in the Celtic fringes of Britain, and was adapted over the decades by Christian traditions, immigrants' conventions and an insatiable desire for sweets.

The origin of the festival is disputed, and there are both pagan and Christian practices that have evolved into what Halloween is like today. Some believe it originates from the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, meaning 'Summer's End' which celebrated the end of harvest season. Gaels believed that it was a time when the walls between our world and the next became thin and porous, allowing spirits to pass through, come back to life on the day and damage their crops. Places were set at the dinner table to appease and welcome the spirits. Gaels would also offer food and drink, and light bonfires to ward off the evil spirits.
The origins of trick or treating and dressing up were in the 16th century in Ireland, Scotland and Wales where people went door-to-door in costume asking for food in exchange for a poem or song. Many dressed up as souls of the dead and were understood to be protecting themselves from the spirits by impersonating them. More about that below. The Christian origin of the holiday is that it falls on the days before the feast of All Hallows, which was set in the eighth century to attempt to stamp out pagan celebrations. Christians would honour saints and pray for souls who have not yet reached heaven.

What has Halloween got to do with dressing up?

Celts dressed up in white with blackened faces during the festival of Samhain to trick the evil spirits that they believed would be roaming the earth before All Saints' Day on November 1st. By the 11th century, this had been adapted by the Church into a tradition called 'souling', which is seen as being the origin of trick-or-treating. Children go door-to-door, asking for soul cakes in exchange for praying for the souls of friends and relatives. They went dressed up as angels, demons or saints. The soul cakes were sweet, with a cross marked on top and when eaten they represented a soul being freed from purgatory.
Nicholas Rogers, a historian at York University says that when people prayed for the dead at Hallow Mass, they dressed up. When praying for fertile marriages, "the boy choristers in the churches dressed up as virgins. So there was a certain degree of cross dressing in the actual ceremony of All Hallow’s Eve.” In the 19th century, souling gave way to guising or mumming, when children would offer songs, poetry and jokes - instead of prayer - in exchange for fruit or money.

Halloween trick-or-treating

The phrase trick-or-treat was first used in America in 1927, with the traditions brought over to America by immigrants. Guising gave way to threatening pranks in exchange for sweets. After a brief lull during the sugar rations in World War Two, Halloween became a widespread holiday that revolved around children, with newly built suburbs providing a safe place for children to roam free. Costumes became more adventurous - in Victorian ages, they were influenced by gothic themes in literature, and dressed as bats and ghosts or what seemed exotic, such as an Egyptian pharoah. Later, costumes became influenced by pop culture, and became more sexualised in the 1970s. Many of us have fallen victim to a scary Halloween prank, or even played the nasty trickster ourselves. From jumping out of bushes dressed as zombies or spooking people in their sleep as ghosts - the terrifying list of possibilities is endless.

Why do we carve pumpkins?

The carving of pumpkins originates from the Samhain festival, when Gaels would carve turnips to ward off spirits and stop fairies from settling in houses.
A theory that explains the Americanised name Jack O'Lantern came from the folkloric story of Stingy Jack, who fooled the devil into buying him a drink. He was not let into heaven or hell - and when he died, the devil threw him a burning ember which he kept in a turnip. The influx of Irish immigrants in the 1840s to North America could not find any turnips to carve, as was tradition, so they used the more readily available pumpkin into which they carved scary faces. By the 1920s pumpkin carving was widespread across America, and Halloween was a big holiday with dressing up and trick-or-treating.

Six peculiar Halloween traditions

In Czech culture, chairs for deceased family members are placed by the fire on Halloween night alongside chairs for each living one. In Austria some people leave bread, water and a lighted lamp on the table before going to bed. It is believed that this will welcome dead souls back to Earth. Meanwhile in Germany, people hide their knives to make sure none of the returning spirits are harmed – or seek to harm them! Barnbrack, a fruitcake, is used as part of a fortune telling game in Ireland. Muslin-wrapped treats are baked inside. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means a prosperous year is on its way; a pea means the person will not marry that year; a stick means an unhappy marriage or dispute; a coin represents good fortune.
The city of Kawasaki in Japan holds an annual Halloween costume parade. More than 100,000 watch it and 2,500 people take part. In Manila, capital of the Philippines, pets get in on the action too. An annual costume contest aims to raise funds for animal welfare groups.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Meghan Markle hairstyle – a DIY step-by-step guide

featured imageOne of the many things 2017 will be known for is the engagement of the gorgeous Meghan Markle to Prince Harry. Their fairytale love story, the Prince’s proposal, their announcement of their marriage, their first interview together, their photo ops—everything about this couple is dreamy and magical. Among the many things that have fascinated us about this soon-to-be duchess, is her hair. Already her simple yet elegant loose curly hairstyle is becoming popular with women from across the world. So we got hairstylist Asgar Saboo to give us a step-by-step guide to get the Meghan Markle hair. Here it is: 1) Shampoo, condition and comb Shampoo and conditioning correctly are key! Using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner will help fight frizz, define the curls and keep them looking fresh and shiny for a prolonged period of time. A little goes a long way, so only apply a dime-sized amount of product to avoid drying out the hair. Allow the conditioner to sit for a few minutes in order to help detangle any knots. After you rinse out your conditioner, try gently brushing through your hair with a wide-toothed comb to get all of the tangles out. Brushing the hair when dry, especially for those with naturally curly hair can cause more frizz. 2) Towel drying It’s important not to be too rough when drying your hair straight after washing it. Before you get out of the shower, ring all of the excess water from your hair and begin drying. Rubbing your hair excessively is going to cause damage, so instead put your hair up in a towel and simply leave it be for 10-15. Try to use a towel with gentler fabrics, or a cotton t-shirt. For tangles, first, apply a de-tangling or conditioning spray. 3) Styling With the hair still slightly damp and combed out in thicker strands, it’s now time to add some curling mousse. Add a generous amount of mousse, roughly the size of a golf ball, from the root to tip and scrunch with your fingers. Make sure to use a product with some hold to it to ensure your curls last longer. If you are going to use a gel, the trick is to rub it in your hands and then lightly scrunch it up into your hair Repeat this until you coat all of your hair with mousse, tip your hair upside down and blow-dry until nearly dry. Once the hair is scrunched and separated, avoid touching it and let it completely dry naturally. Once your hair is totally dry, it may need a little spray or pomade to finish off the look.

Which Celebs Do These Stars Want to Kiss Under the Mistletoe? - Becky G, Fifth Harmony, Lucy Hale

Which Celeb Had the Best Year? ►► More Celebrity News ►► If you had to be stuck under the mistletoe with one celebrity, who would it be? We asked stars like Becky G, Fifth Harmony, Lucy Hale, Bridgit Mendler, Rita Ora and more who would be their dream smooch. For More Clevver Visit: Website: Like us on Facebook: Follow us on Twitter: Keep up with us on Instagram: Add us to your circles on Google+: Tweet Me:

Why Marines Absolutely Love the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle

featured imageMarksmanship, the ability to shoot accurately and service targets with the minimum expenditure of ammunition, has always been part of the Marine Corps ethos. The adoption of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle over the older M249 Squad Automatic Weapon marks a return to that ethos across the service at the small unit level. More accurate and capable of accomplishing its mission with fewer expended rounds, the M27 is now being considered as the front-line rifle not only for a handful of squad members but across the Corps’ front line units. The Marine Corps, accustomed to heavy losses against strong enemy defenses and beach assaults, maintains robust, thirteen-man infantry squads. These squads further divide into three fire teams led by a single squad leader, each of which has two riflemen, a grenadier, and an automatic rifleman. Compared to a nine-man U.S. Army infantry squad, the Marine squad has four more personnel and a third rifle team. The result is increased flexibility and more tactical options for the squad leader.
The M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle
The Marine Corps plans on fielding the M27 IAR more broadly in infantry units as early as 2018
For decades the fire team automatic rifleman has been equipped with the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Originally developed by Fabrique Nationale as the MINIMI, the M249 was capable of laying down a large volume of fire, up to 900 rounds per minute, using 200 round belt-fed packs of ammunition. This made the M249 useful for suppressive fire, keeping the enemy’s head down while other fire teams closed with the enemy. The M249 was a Marine Corps staple through the 9/11 era.
As useful as the M249 was, it did have problems. A 2006 report conducted by the CNA Corporation found that among U.S. Army combat veterans, the M249 scored below average in third place (after the M16 rifle and M4 carbine, but generally ahead of the M9 pistol) in handling, accuracy, maintainability and corrosion resistance. Nearly 30 percent of troops issued the M249 reported experiencing a stoppage in contact with the enemy, and 35 percent expressed a lack of confidence in weapon reliability. Although a U.S. Army study, the weapons involved in the study were identical to those issued at the time by the U.S. Marines. The most glaring problem with the M249: it was never a good institutional fit for the Marine Corps. Although the weapon could hose down an enemy position with fire it wasn’t particularly useful for accurately engaging individual targets. The increase in ammo consumption meant an increase in carried ammunition weight. Ammunition consumption went up, the weight of carried ammunition went up, and accuracy went down—not an ideal situation for infantry. In 2010, the Marines introduced the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR). The IAR is based on the Heckler and Koch 416 rifle, which outwardly is very similar to the M4 carbine. Unlike the M4 carbine, the M27 uses the gas piston operating system, which uses a piston to drive the bolt. Instead of recycling hot, dirty propellent gases to cycle the weapon the M27 vents them, resulting in a cooler running, cleaner running, if slightly front-heavy rifle. The M27 differs in other ways. The rifle barrel is slightly longer and heavier than the M4 carbine, giving the M27 a slight range advantage over the carbine. The thicker M27 barrel can fire longer than the M4 before overheating, but will also disperse heat longer. The M27 is also much lighter, weighing nearly ten pounds fully loaded, versus twenty-two pounds fully loaded for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. This is an appreciable difference during long periods of carrying the weapon.
The main difference between the M27 and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, however, is accuracy. The M249 is first and foremost a machine gun and is accurate to about twelve minutes of angle, meaning rounds will hit within a foot of their target at 100 yards. The M27, on the other hand, is approximately a two minute of angle weapon, meaning it will land rounds within two inches of the target at 100 yards. In the hands of a trained automatic rifleman, this scales upward, so the M27 will deliver rounds within twelve inches of the target at 600 yards. Other factors further improve the M27’s accuracy. The weapon features a Harris folding bipod, giving it a stable shooting position while prone or from behind cover. It also features a Trijicon ACOG Squad Day Optic, which sports 3.5 power magnification and allows target identification and precision fire out to distances of up to 600 yards. The ACOG also incorporates a rugged miniaturized reflex (RMR) sight for close quarters shooting at 100 yards or less. The M27 is described by marines in the field as “two weapons in one”: a rifle capable of precision fire to eliminate individual targets but also capable of providing area suppression fire, like a SAW, if necessary. The difference is that the improved accuracy of the M27 leads to the need to fire fewer rounds to suppress a target, and less ammunition consumption in general. By contrast, the M249 it replaces is primarily an area suppression fire weapon with no precision fire capability. The M27 has become so well-liked in August 2017 the Marine Corps issued an intent notice to procure another 50,000 rifles—enough to equip every infantryman and automatic rifleman in front-line combat units. Such an upgrade would give the Marine Corps an impressive boost in aimed firepower and mark a return to the Corps’ tradition of marksmanship.

Jail in Hong Kong for booing China's national anthem

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Hong KongChina - Mocking China's national anthem in this semi-autonomous territory will soon be punishable by three years imprisonment following new legislation drafted by Beijing.

While the law must still be finalised, football fans have made a stand at recent games where the anthem - March of the Volunteers - was played.

A number of Hong Kong people have booed, held banners, and chanted "We are Hong Kong" despite claims by China's adviser to the special autonomous region, Elsie Leung, that the law could be applied retroactively.

The football pitch is an unlikely spot for a political match to go down, but in Hong Kong this is where opposition to the so called "anthem law" has been heard most fiercely. Student Kin Wa Chung was one of the attendees who booed and brought a "Hong Kong is not China" flag to recent matches. He explained through an interpreter that - following the ousting of four pro-democracy lawmakers in July - he felt like protest was the only way to speak out. "Since these people have been disqualified, we don't have a channel to raise our voice and express our views," he told Al Jazeera. Chung said the government doesn't hear the voice of the people, or listen to the reasons why the anthem was booed. He called this "a kind of oppression".
Kin Wa Chung was one of the people booing at recent matches [Jeremy Smart/Al Jazeera]
While pro-establishment officials say the booing is disrespectful, those who demonstrate feel differently. "They are contradicting themselves and adding fuel to the fire. Instead of communicating with us, they pin the blame on us. They should be ashamed," said Chung. "I don't think we are disrespecting the country, because if the government or the country aren't some kind of representation of us, how can booing the national anthem be disrespectful? It's not representative of our voice." Chung said while it's a relatively small gesture, the anthem protests are reaching a wider audience. "If it was useless, you wouldn't be interviewing me," he said.

Outlawing boos

Under the governing "one country, two systems" formula, Hong Kong's legal system is separate from that of mainland China. The anthem legislation has already been approved by the National People's Congress and brought into effect on the mainland. But in Hong Kong, it must be locally drafted before it can be enacted as law and ultimately enforced. Initially agreeing with Leung's threat to backdate the legislation, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam later clarified this was unlikely. Despite uncertainty around retroactive enforcement, the boos continue. Pro-establishment politician Holden Chow said while protesters and their message only make up a minority in Hong Kong, he considers the booing concerning. "Those sort of behaviours certainly show disrespect to the national anthem and also shows some sort of disrespect to our own country. I think that provoked many people – including myself," he told Al Jazeera from his office in the Legislative Council Complex. "These sort of incidents would trigger concern in the mainland, because from the central government's perspective, or even from a Chinese perspective, you wouldn't like to see that sort of thing happening. You don't want people to insult your own country."
Pro-establishment politician Holden Chow says booing the anthem at football matches is disrespectful [Jeremy Smart/Al Jazeera]
Chow said he views the booing as being entwined with calls for independence, something he staunchly opposes and considers a disruptive idea supported by few Hongkongers. "In this minority of [disobedient] people who are booing the national anthem, not only do they insult our own country, but also I think they would insult themselves … We won't accept or embrace or stand for that sort of behaviour. I think they are simply jeopardising our reputation." Chow added the vocal protest was "stirring up conflict between Hong Kong and the central government". "That does nothing good," he said, adding there is a place for demonstrations to be voiced within a "proper lawful assembly", but not on the soccer field. "That hijacks the entire sports game. People have to focus on the booing of the national anthem, and the Hong Kong team being penalised, and that's unfair to the team too," said Chow.

'Respect earned, not demanded'

Claudia Mo is a pro-democracy politician who believes the legislation is purposefully forceful and at odds with Hong Kong's identity. The territory was under British rule from 1841 until 1997 when it was returned to China. "In the last 20 years, Hong Kong people have woken up to the fact that communism is really incongruous with the way we've been living in Hong Kong," Mo said. "To the Chinese, it's a huge loss of face: 'How dare the Hong Kong people, especially the young, display such a disrespect to the national anthem.' They want to make sure that if you're disobedient, you know the price to pay and that is they can put you in jail." While incarceration may be an effective scare tactic, Mo said this will not generate respect among those who want political change. "In English we say respect is something earned, not demanded. They think that once the law becomes law, everything will settle, and that's just idiotic on their part. And I don't think they are actually that idiotic. "They knew they couldn't win Hong Kong people back, especially the young, so they can only do it the harsh way. It's this parental attitude: 'I'm your mother, I'm your father. I'm the provider, so you better listen to what I have to say.'"
Pro-democracy politician Claudia Mo said the proposed law is 'just idiotic on their part' [Jeremy Smart/Al Jazeera]
While the anthem law will not be drastically different from existing ones in Hong Kong that pertain to the national anthem and flag, there remains a sense of unease around the political rhetoric and harshness of the proposed jail term. Simon Young, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said if mainland laws are adopted locally they are subjected to a rigorous and lengthy process before being enacted. "It's very cumbersome but deliberately so because it's meant to protect the autonomy of Hong Kong," he said. Criminal provisions of the law cannot be applied retroactively, he added, and legislative clarity is essential. While the law has yet to be implemented, policing it could be a bigger challenge. "That's going to be very tricky," said Young. "The executive branch are going to have to make some very important decisions as to how this law is going to be enforced. There will certainly be people who will test it."

Best Animated Movies for Kids

My Neighbor Totoro Hayao Miyazaki is often referred to as the “Walt Disney of Japan” and Studio Ghibli—the film and animation studio he co-f...