Friday, February 26, 2010

Indonesian ranger freed from jaws of Komodo dragon

JAKARTA, Indonesia – An Indonesian park ranger escaped an attack by a Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard species, when his colleagues heard his cries for help and drove the reptile away.
Marcelinus Subanghadir was outside his hut on Komodo Island late Monday when a nearly 7-foot-long (more than 2-meter-long) dragon grabbed hold of his right foot, Komodo National Park chief Tamen Sitorus said.
The dragon had Subanghadir's foot clamped in its shark-like, serrated teeth until fellow rangers heard his screams and drove it off with wooden clubs, Sitorus said.
Subanghadir, 34, suffered deep lacerations and was recovering at a hospital on nearby Bali.
Komodo dragons can be found in the wild only on the eastern Indonesian islands of Komodo, Padar and Rinca. The lizards — thought to number fewer than 4,000 — can grow longer than 10 feet (3 meters) and weigh 150 pounds (70 kilograms).
An 8-year-old boy was killed by one of the lizards in 2007 on Komodo Island.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bigger crowds expected at Natas fair

SINGAPORE: In a sign that those planning to travel are expecting this to be "a good year", more of them are expected to throng the Natas Travel Fair which opens on Friday.

The fair's organisers, the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas), expect 60,000 visitors and sales of S$50 million this year - 10 per cent more compared to the last Natas fair in August 2009.

In a sign that 165 exhibitors at the fair share the optimism, over 1,000 booths have been taken up.

"People are expecting it to be a good year and they are making plans to go for holiday ... it only slowed down last year because of H1N1, but once Singaporeans had a clearer picture of H1N1, they were travelling again," said Natas president Robert Khoo,

According to a recent survey by credit card issuer MasterCard, more Singaporeans are expected to travel within the first six months of this year compared to the second half.

Destinations in North Asia such as Japan and China are expected to continue to be the most popular.

Travel agencies like Chan Brothers are also expecting destinations in Europe to do well, with exotic destinations like Israel and Turkey to be in demand.

"Primarily because Singaporeans are a well-travelled lot ... they are looking for something off the beaten track," said Ms Jane Chang, Chan Brothers' assistant marketing communications manager.

Marina IR to open April 27

Marina Bay Sands, built beside Singapore's financial district, had been scheduled to open at the end of last year. The resort includes three 55-story hotel towers with 2,600 rooms and suites topped with the sky park. -- PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS

SINGAPORE'S second casino and integrated resort at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) will open its doors on April 27, announced its parent company Las Vegas Sands on Wednesday. This will be followed by the second phase opening on June 23.
The announcement comes barely less than a week after its rival Genting Singapore opened its Resorts World Sentosa casino to the Chinese New Year crowds on Feb 14.
In Phase One, some 963 hotel rooms, part of the shopping mall and convention centre, celebrity chef restaurants and other dining outlets, as well as the casino, will open on April 27, said MBS chief executive officer Thomas Arasi. But the opening schedule is subjected to 'construction proceeding as scheduled and being able to attain the necessary regulatory approvals,' he added.
Phase Two will be ready on June 23, which includes the Sands SkyPark, the Event Plaza along Marina Bay, the rest of the shops in the retail mall, and more dining options and nightlife. Mr Arasi said the IR will be marking Phase Two as part of its grand opening celebration.
Las Vegas Sands (LVS) chairman and chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson said in a statement: "Nearly four years ago, we embarked on a journey we believed would define the future of our company and at the same time change the face of tourism in Singapore and the South Asian region for decades to come. Now, as we approach the opening of Marina Bay Sands - one of the most remarkable leisure and business destinations ever created - it seems both of those ambitions are about to come true."
He added: 'Despite the challenging, and at times unprecedented economic conditions companies like ours recently faced, our dedication to completing this development never wavered, not even for a second. That determination defines this company as much as our ability to create and develop masterpieces such as Marina Bay Sands. We have no doubt the property will be a tremendous success, but how we got to this point will be every bit as important to the future prospects of our company.'

Familiar Singaporean behaviour seen at Resorts World Sentosa

From 'chope'-ing seats to shouting out loud, Singaporeans aren't afraid to be themselves in Singapore's latest attraction

Click the image to open in full size.

'Chope' - that's my seat

Seats are at a premium in the over-crowded casino, and some middle-aged female patrons have been spotted leaving packets of tissue paper on the tables to 'chope' - or reserve - their seats. Others who need a toilet break get friends to fend off other patrons keen to take their seat.

Shout out loud

Punters can be a loud and animated bunch.

Shouts of 'huat, ah!' ('prosperity') are frequently heard throughout the hall.

'Picture, picture!' is another oft-heard phrase at the poker and baccarat tables. It refers to the king, queen and jack cards in a poker deck.

In fact, the more crowded and loud an activity is, the better, it seems. The tables with the most 'action' draw the biggest crowds.

Some players joke loudly with dealers as if they are old friends.

'Why get so worked up? They think if they shout louder, they will win? If that's the case, the casino would have closed down a long time ago,' said retiree Tan Thiam Chye, 70, who was observing them.

Make yourself at home

Spotted at the casino: people taking off their shoes and sandals as they parked themselves at the jackpot machines. Others slept on the sofas in the rest corners for precious shut-eye time before waking up refreshed for yet another round at the machines.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Marijuana use by seniors goes up as boomers age

MIAMI - In her 88 years, Florence Siegel has learned how to relax: A glass of red wine. A crisp copy of The New York Times, if she can wrest it from her husband. Some classical music, preferably Bach. And every night like clockwork, she lifts a pipe to her lips and smokes marijuana.
Long a fixture among young people, use of the country's most popular illicit drug is now growing among the AARP set, as the massive generation of baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s and '70s grows older.
The number of people aged 50 and older reporting marijuana use in the prior year went up from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent from 2002 to 2008, according to surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The rise was most dramatic among 55- to 59-year-olds, whose reported marijuana use more than tripled from 1.6 percent in 2002 to 5.1 percent.
Observers expect further increases as 78 million boomers born between 1945 and 1964 age. For many boomers, the drug never held the stigma it did for previous generations, and they tried it decades ago.
Some have used it ever since, while others are revisiting the habit in retirement, either for recreation or as a way to cope with the aches and pains of aging.
Siegel walks with a cane and has arthritis in her back and legs. She finds marijuana has helped her sleep better than pills ever did. And she can't figure out why everyone her age isn't sharing a joint, too.
"They're missing a lot of fun and a lot of relief," she said.

Friday, February 19, 2010

David Bowie's A Reality Tour CD

Now, all 30 of the amazing career-spanning, live songs from Bowie's 2003 A Reality Tour DVD are available on compact disc, including three superb, unreleased bonus tracks:
"Fall Dog Bombs The Moon," "Breaking Glass" and "China Girl."

Caught at the very apex of his storied career, fronting a crack band that spotlights guitarist Earl Slick, Bowie cuts loose with "Fame" (co-written with John Lennon); a thrilling audience sing-along version of "All The Young Dudes" (a huge hit Bowie penned for Mott The Hoople); "Under Pressure" (co-written by Bowie and members of Queen, including Freddie Mercury); and "Changes," the Bowie song that all but defines the man's career in a single word. With few exceptions, no other singer in the history of pop music has been around for this long – and sounds as exciting now as he ever did!

AOL's Spinner is giving you a chance this week to hear the entire CD before you purchase it.
Click here:

Purchase A Reality Tour at Amazon here:

Purchase A Reality Tour at iTunes here:

And for those of you who live in the US, be sure to watch David Bowie's A Reality Tour on FUSE tonight at 11 PM EST. Check FUSE to find channels in your area, and to enter the Bowie Sweepstakes.

Read An Interview w/Luke on

An interview with Luke, conducted by our Christmas interactive video competition winner, is now live on

In it Luke talks about;

- what the band have been up to
- how recording's going
- highlights from last year (+ that plane incident in Poland)
- The Kooks plans for 2010

...and gives us some clues as to what to expect from album #3.

Check it out only on here:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Southeast Asia's first Universal Studios theme park opens in Singapore

Click the image to open in full size.
World's tallest duelling roller-coasters, one seated and the other suspended, in Battlestar Galactica CYCLON vs HUMAN ride (2009 Resorts World Sentosa)

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asia's first Universal Studios theme park welcomed its first visitors on Sunday in Singapore.

It is part of the S$6.59-billion Resorts World Sentosa, which also opened Singapore's first casino in the afternoon.

Visitors to the park were transported into a world of Hollywood magic where celebrity culture and movies are celebrated.

Among the many highlights, visitors can travel back in time to the ancient world of Egypt, and the long lost land where dinosaurs come alive.

Fast forward to the future, the theme park features a sci-fi city where visitors can experience inter-galactic battles.

Of course, a theme park would not be complete without replicas of hit animated films. Universal Studios Singapore is also showcasing the fairytale world of Shriek, and the dense, tropical jungle of Madagascar.

First visitors to the park on Sunday created an air of buzz and excitement, with several adults admitting they feel like kids as the theme park worked its magic.

The roller-coaster rides created the most amount of hype, even though they were not operational during this phased-in opening.

"It would be better if we could get on the rides but I think it looks good so far," said a visitor. "We came to take a look first so next time we come, we know what to do."

"I was very amazed because it was quite similar to what I remember when I was in America and it brings back a lot of fond memories," said another visitor.

"We want to have a look and feel of the atmosphere of the place. My husband is quite afraid of the rides so this ticket is a much better buy than buying the full price."

Tickets were priced at S$10, and have been sold out for the eight-day sneak-peek period.

However, visitors can expect the full experience when Universal Studios Singapore re-opens, with all the rides and shows next month.

- CNA/yb

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tg Pagar is next Marina Bay

The Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) has suggested the Government redevelop the port land at Tanjong Pagar, Keppel and Pulau Brani into a new waterfront city. -- PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

EVEN before Singapore's Marina Bay is completed, the next iconic development has been identified by the Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) - Tanjong Pagar.
Senior Minister of State Grace Fu said on Monday that the port could be transformed 'into a another Marina Bay and it can offer immense opportunities to support future growth'.
This is an example of the 'bold and imaginative urban planning and redevelopment' that the ESC report said is necessary to develop the infrastructure necessary to provide 'the highest quality of life in Asia'.
The port's lease is up in 2027.
'We have to make more efficient use of our land, to maximise optimise its economic value and preserve a sense of space in our residential neighbourhoods,' said the report, released on Monday.
'We must also expand our land bank. by investing in the creation of underground space, especially around our transport nodes,' it added.
The end-goal of such infrastructure development is to position Singapore as a global city.
'Being a global city and a meeting point in Asia for enterprise, talent, cultures and ideas, will be a source of competitiveness and growth in its own right.' said the report.
The ESC report is available on the ESC website at

Better quality fake IDs

A 16-YEAR-OLD Secondary 4 student is in a club on a Wednesday night, while her friend, also 16, buys them drinks from the bar.
Her 'identification card' says she is 22 and from Brown University in the United States, while the other has a Norwegian 'driver's licence' which lists him as 25. The pair paid about $30 each for their fake IDs from a printing shop in Bencoolen Street.
Owning - and using - fake IDs has become common practice among teens, a Straits Times survey of 80 teens between 14 and 17 found. Half admitted to having fake IDs which they would use to get around age-restriction rules at clubs, and shops that hawk alcohol and cigarettes.
Even those without such IDs said they want one, and know how to get one. What none of them knew: the penalties for being caught owning or using one.
When The Straits Times reported on the use of fake IDs in 2006, the cards were mostly real IDs with an extra layer bearing a fake age laminated over them. Each cost between $40 and $70.
Now, checks and interviews with teens have turned up more sophisticated, yet cheaper cards. At least two printing shops in Bencoolen Street offer customers a menu of over 20 templates from mostly American and Australian universities, and even international drivers' licences. They can enter any name and date of birth they want, and the ID is theirs in 20 minutes - for just $30.