Archive | April, 2012

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Obama, Japan’s Noda hail security alliance after bilateral meeting

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

President Obama on Monday reaffirmed the United States’ defense commitment to Japan, calling the relationship the “linchpin” of security in the Far East.


Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda/
(KAZUHIRO NOGI – AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Appearing with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda after their bilateral meeting, Obama hailed the recent agreement to relocate 9,000 U.S. Marines off Okinawa to other bases in the Western Pacific, saying the move will help allay concerns of Japanese residents of the island.

Obama pledged that the move will not compromise the long-time alliance at a time when the United States is rebalancing its commitment to Asia to counter China�™s influence and renewed nuclear threats from North Korea.

“We think we’ve found an effective mechanism to move this process forward in a way that is respectful of the situation in Okinawa, the views of residents there,” Obama said during a joint news conference in the East Room, “but also is able to optimize the defense cooperation between our two countries and the alliance that’s the linchpin not just of our own security but also security in the region as a whole.”

The Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa is seen as critical to counterbalancing China’s aggression in the region, but the noisy base has caused tension with Japanese residents in the crowded urban area.

U.S. and Japan officials have been negotiating a relocation of some troops and the base for years. Some of the 9,000 Marines likely will be relocated to Guam, but the two sides still have not settled on a new location for the airbase inside Japan.

Noda, who was making his first visit to Washington since taking power seven months ago, said that he and Obama were “able to confirm that our two countries will cooperate in the context of a deepening bilateral alliance towards the realization of the optimum U.S. force posture in the region and the reduction of burden on Okinawa.”

Article source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogsኈ/post/obama-japans-noda-hail-security-alliance-after-bilateral-meeting/2012/04/30/gIQAZSYSsT_blog.html

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Five Insider Tips for Your Next Disney World Trip

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

By Leigh Jenkins

The Walt Disney World Resort is ever-changing, making even the most experienced veterans feel like first-timers. Whether it really is your first trip or you’re headed back this year for the second (or tenth) time, here are our insider tips based on some of the newest (and biggest) developments at Disney World this year.

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The Fantasyland Expansion

The biggest expansion of the Magic Kingdom since its opening in 1971, the Fantasyland expansion project will include new restaurants, attractions, and character experiences. The project will open in stages over the next two years, but upon its completion, Fantasyland will be almost double its present size. Already up and running is the new Dumbo in the Storybook Circus section and the “re-imagined” Barnstormer coaster, featuring the Great Goofini as your unpredictable pilot.

By July, a second Dumbo will be flying beside the first, along with an interactive queue to make the wait seem shorter, as well as a Casey Junior Circus Train water play area. Be Our Guest, a restaurant themed after the ballroom scene from Beauty and the Beast, and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid will both be opened by Christmas of 2012. A new Princess meet-and-greet area, taking the place of Snow White’s Scary Adventures, will be created in 2013 and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Cart, a “first coaster experience” designed for kids of all ages, will debut in 2014.

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Fastpass

The Fastpass system may seem old hat to return visitors, but Disney has recently made one major change that can completely alter your touring schedule. Cast members are now strictly enforcing the hour limit printed on the time card. Make sure to keep note of when your Fastpass now expires, because when the hour is up, the Fastpass is useless.

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New Tours

There are two new tours at Walt Disney World, and both are great for families with older children. First is Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom, a two and a half hour guided tour around the Magic Kingdom in which you’ll learn about the history of Walt’s vision for his theme parks, and experience how the Imagineers bring that vision to life with a backstage look at an attraction.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, don’t miss the Wild Africa Trek (pictured), a walking tour that takes guests behind the scenes at Kilimanjaro Safaris. Feed hippos, have lunch on the savannah, and walk over a suspension bridge above a lagoon of crocodiles! And best of all—a photographer follows you around snapping every important moment, so you’re free to just savor the experience and enjoy the view.

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Test Track

One of the Epcot’s most popular attractions is currently experiencing a major overhaul—at least in the queue and preshow area. Before boarding, guests will be able to design their own Test Track car, taking into account power, efficiency, and responsiveness. While the track will remain the same, guests will now see how their design decisions affect their vehicle. Look for these changes in the Fall of this year.

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Interactive Experiences

Since their research shows that families love to play and problem solve together, Walt Disney World has created two new interactive experiences.

In Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (pictured), Merlin is doing all he can to stop the sinister Hades from taking over the Magic Kingdom—but he needs a little help. Those who choose to assist him can visit the training grounds (located at the Fire Station on Main Street and behind the Christmas Shop in Liberty Square) to receive a key card as well as magic spell cards to help the Disney good guys face off against the villains. A cast member is on hand to explain how the game works, but as always with technology—kids learn the fastest. New spell cards can be picked up every day at the Magic Kingdom, but the key card, and progress made against Hades, stays the same.

At Epcot, Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, based on the hit show Phineas and Ferb, will open in June 2012. Evil mastermind Dr. Doofenshmirtz is out to take over the globe, starting with the nations of Epcot’s World Showcase. Since Perry, aka Agent P, is currently trapped in a pet carrier while the Flynn-Fletchers vacation, and is thus out of commission, it’s up to theme park volunteers to save the world. Darting around the pavilions collecting clues and solving puzzles is a great way to get kids enthused about visiting the nations of the World Showcase—and to get the whole family working as a team.

Leigh Jenkins, co-author of Walt Disney World with Kids, made her first visit to Walt Disney World before she was year old. Since then she has visited the parks numerous times, always taking in what’s new. Currently her favorite attraction is Star Tours, and she can never let a visit go by without visiting 50′s Prime Time Café. When she is not wandering the parks, Jenkins resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband.

Photo credits: All photos courtesy of Walt Disney World.

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Australian Billionaire to Launch Titanic II

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

By Deanna Cioppa

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The centennial of the sinking of the Titanic this year has prompted museum openings, ceremonies, the 3D rerelease of Titanic, and educational programs across the world. But what’s all that compared to what one Australian billionaire has planned in honor of the most famous ship in history?

Clive Palmer announced today his plan to build a near-replica of the Titanic, enigmatically named the Titanic II, with a launch date in late 2016. The Associated Press reports that the seafaring homage will be built in China at CSC Jinling Shipyard, and much like its ill-fated namesake, will make its maiden voyage from England to New York.

Palmer, a coal-mining and real estate mogul reportedly worth $5.2 billion, said the Titanic II is merely the first in a line of four luxury cruise ships commissioned from Jinling through his new shipping company, Blue Star Line Pty. Ltd. (The original Titanic was commissioned by the also similarly named White Star Line.) The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the new ship will have the same proportions, number of rooms (840), and decks (9) as the first Titanic.

“These people produced work that is still marveled at more than 100 years later and we want that spirit to go on for another 100 years,” Palmer said in a statement.

So, what will be different?

“It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic, but…will have state-of-the-art 21st century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems,” said Palmer. According to the AP, the main differences in the new ship include welding to replace rivets, a “bulbous bow” to increase fuel efficiency and modifications to the rudder and bow thrusters for greater maneuverability. Diesel will power the ship, rather than coal, though decorative replica smokestacks will grace its decks.

Improvements and modern technology aside, it’s reasonable to assume some may view the second pass at one of the world’s most infamous tragedies as tempting the fates, to say the least. When asked if the Titanic II could sink, Palmer was somewhat more candid about the liner’s limitations than his ‘unsinkable’ forebears:

“Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it.”

He did add, “It will be designed as a modern ship with all the technology to ensure that doesn’t happen.” (Well, that’s a relief.)

The AP writes that the initial design for the Titanic II has begun, and that a historical research team has been brought on to assist. No budget has been announced as of yet for this new Ship of Dreams. And no word on whether James Cameron has been tapped for the 3D “Making Of” film.

Thinking of taking a trip on the Titanic II? Best of luck to you. But if you have an opinion on the remaking of this infamous ship, weigh in in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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On Location in India with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

By Erica Duecy
Fodor’s Editor

Wouldn’t it be romantic to retire at a luxurious hotel in India? That’s the premise that sends seven British strangers packing to Rajasthan in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which debuts in theaters on May 4. With a cast of headliners like Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, and Tom Wilkinson, the film is sure to gain widespread attention stateside (it’s already a hit in the UK), and to inspire wanderlust for ancient temples, colorful saris, and exotic vistas.

The film’s director, John Madden, gave Fodors.com a sneak peak at the real-life locations that play host to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘s kaleidoscopic on-screen world.

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Fodor’s: Where in India did you shoot The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?

Madden: We selected Rajasthan as the place to film because the terrain felt right, most particularly the colors felt right. It’s just an incredibly rich color palette you find in that part of India. It felt right to us as the setting for the story.

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Fodor’s: And what made you focus in on the city of Jaipur?

Madden: Jaipur, and I suppose Rajasthan in general, was a perfect emblem of an older feudal system in India and an agricultural economy that was colliding in a very immediate way with the modern technological India, “molten India” essentially. It’s a beautiful old city that’s very down on its heels now. It has some extraordinary architecture that is suffering terribly from dilapidation, but at the same time its beauty and extraordinariness is discernible.

In Jaipur, you see every conceivable mode of transport, from big expensive cars and buses at one end of the scale, down to rickshaws and horse-drawn cars and camels, all sharing the same road space. There’s something about the chaos and the jumble and the sort of madness of it that seemed a very good context for the story, because the film is at least partly about culture shock, and culture shock was a term surely coined to describe what happens when you go to India.

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Fodor’s: What drew you to the Ravla Khempur as the site for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?

Madden: It was originally a tribal chieftain’s palace but now it operates as an equestrian hotel in the village of Khempur, about an hour and a half outside of Udaipur. The character of that hotel needed to have gone downhill, but nevertheless be aspiring to a former glory, and that’s a fairly good description of the way the place is now. It needed to have a magic about it, some sense of it being a refuge or a place where the seven characters wouldn’t immediately leave and try to seek alternative accommodation. It’s a very cinematic space because it has multiple levels and rooms that defy any kind of modern western concept of what a room would be.

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Fodor’s: Where was the flower market that Sonny (Dev Patel) visits to buy marigolds for his girlfriend?

Madden: We shot that in a flower and vegetable market in Jaipur. We had to essentially steal those shots guerrilla style. We had cameras hidden in various places because you can’t put a camera down in India without the world stopping to pay attention, so we essentially had to hide ourselves. We wired Dev with a radio mic and shot him in context of the real market and we had cameras hidden in various places to shoot that scene. But that’s an extraordinary place.

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Fodor’s: What about the “stepwell” watering hole?

Madden: There are quite a number of those structures in India, and that one is up near the Amber Fort. It’s an entirely functional structure—when the monsoon rains come, the well fills up to its top level so you would not see any of the structure that you see in the film. It’s called a stepwell because, as the water drops over the course of the dry season, you can always get down to the water level. Essentially it’s a big public well, which they would have used to get their water, but now is used frequently for swimming as you see in the film—even though it’s not supposed to be.

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Fodor’s: What about the expat hangout, the Viceroy Club. Where was that filmed?

Madden: That was filmed at the Kanota Fort, outside Jaipur. Now it has traces of colonial architecture, with a corrugated iron canopy built around the original fort that dates from the British occupation. The columns that hold it up are old railway lines. It is very grand and massive, and I needed a location that was a kind of colonial expat environment, which is where two characters in the film go in search of love and end up finding one another instead.

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Fodor’s: Were there other locations that are particularly significant to highlight?

Madden: At one point in the film, the characters all travel to Udaipur. I don’t want to say why they go there, but they visit an old, royal ruined garden and a lake. For various reasons we filmed this sequence somewhere else entirely—Kishangar, between Jaipur and Udaipur. When I first went to Udaipur, it was bone dry and there were no lakes at all. In fact it was hard to believe that there could be lakes there because they were just expanses of dry mud.

After the monsoons, the identity of the area utterly transforms. There is a famous hotel that you can see in the film called the Lake Palace Hotel, a hotel that’s floating in the middle of the lake part of the year, but which you could walk to during the dry season. The monsoon rains essentially fill it up, so the lakes are actually like giant puddles. Really, the volume of water to fill up these lakes seems inconceivable. It’s quite remarkable.

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Fodor’s: Can you talk a little bit about the challenges of filming in India?

Madden: Well, they’re an extraordinary people and a very curious people, very hospitable people, and very welcoming people. The curiosity and hospitality strangely made life quite difficult because, as I mentioned, you produced a camera anywhere it was chaos—not that there isn’t chaos there already. Also, the noise is a phenomenal problem. You just can’t control the noises that are going on. Any transport is a huge issue; there’s a sequence in the film where the buses they’re forced to travel on—because their flight is cancelled—has a near miss with another bus, which is literally a daily occurrence on the highways. But very quickly you slide into a sort of peace with that, and of course in the midst of the chaos there is a sort of serenity that when you go into a building, the rest of the world falls away. That’s a dynamic that the film works with all the time.

Photo Credits: Rajasthan: Britta Kasholm-Tengve/iStockphoto; Jaipur: Robert Bremec/iStockphoto; Ravla Khempur: Courtesy of Ravla Khempur; Market: Jaipur Market by Chris Brown
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License; Stepwell: Doron, via Wikimedia Commons; Kanota Fort: Courtesy of allhotelsin.net; Lake Palace Hotel: Courtesy of Taj Hotels, Resorts, Palaces; Buses: © Milonk/Dreamstime.com

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10 Perfect Girlfriend Getaways

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

By Trish Friesen

Nothing beats a weekend away with the ladies. Bidding the regular humdrum adieu, it’s a time to reconnect, eat, laugh, shop, and gab until 2am. Devoid of lacy lingerie and pillow fights, it’s a time when sweatpants are worn in secret and “it” jeans are worn in public. And with Mother’s Day fast approaching, we put together a bevy of weekend getaways and transcontinental treks for lady-adventurers and sun-seekers alike.

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Urban Foodies in Portland

Like its farm-to-table food scene, Portland’s size is easily digestible, making it an ideal walk-everywhere-to-burn-off-the-calories getaway. This is not your ‘salad sans dressing and a water’ type destination, though. Maple bacon donuts, food trucks, bourbon cocktails, and locally-sourced everything are the gastro-city’s trading cards where mixologists and chefs achieve celeb status.

Hotel: The Nines, from $230/night

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‘Out of Africa’-Style in Masai Mara, Kenya

Traveling to Kenya’s Masai Mara-a continuation of Tanzania’s Serengeti-is trip-of-a-lifetime material. Think of yourself as Ralph Lauren’s newest muse, wearing aviators and head-to-toe khaki. Sure, it might take some convincing—and a few glasses of wine—to gather friends and arrange a crossing of the pond to Africa, but once you’re scoping out “the big five” (lion, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros) in a safari vehicle, and sleeping in a luxury canvas tent with a hot chocolate wake-up, the transcontinental trip won’t seem like such a trek.

Hotel: Fairmont Mara Safari Club, from $619/night including WiFi, meals, and two game drives daily

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Hiking in Style in Phoenix, and Beyond

Work hard to play hard. Lace up your trail shoes and instead of coffee, start with a hike in the Arizona foothills, then slip into your flip flops to celebrate your achievement poolside. Or kick them off in exchange for wooden wedges, perfect for sipping wine sipped under a clear, inky sky. Moderate, six-mile hikes like Tom’s Thumb in Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountain Sonoran Preserve offer great views from every step.

Hotel: Arizona Biltmore, from $269/night. A $28 nightly resort charge includes complimentary WiFi, use of the fitness center, and self-parking.

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Sun, Sand, and Snorkel in Bonaire

Jump on a 45-minute flight from Aruba, bound for its petite and down-to-earth sibling, Bonaire. Don’t expect shiny malls selling emeralds or Louis Vuitton bags, Bonaire is more focused on its natural landscape and 87 dive and snorkel sites. Stay a 10-minute drive from the main city of Kralendijk at one the island’s only white sand beaches—the rest of the shores are rocky—on a bay that stretches for two miles in each direction with knee-deep water the color of Daniel Craig’s piercing blue eyes. While perched at the beach bar for happy hour, keep an eye out for the flock of 30 flamingoes that fly overhead at 6pm every night.

Hotel: The Sorobon Beach Resort, from $150/night for a one-bedroom beach bungalow outfitted with a kitchen. Includes WiFi and parking.

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Celeb-Worthy and Oprah-Approved in Hamilton Island, Australia

Follow in Oprah’s footsteps at one of Australia’s most exclusive island retreats, Hamilton Island. Dressed head-to-toe in resort wear, feel the wind rushing through your hair as you buzz from the island’s peaks to beaches on your personal golf cart—the main mode of island transport. Let your hair down and get a taste of celebrity life lounging by the inky blue, beachfront infinity pool on a pool lounger reminiscent of The Princess And The Pea‘s mattress tower. It all begins with a glass of Veuve Cliquot at check-in—the only way to start a true girls’ getaway, when you think about it.

Hotel: qualia, an all-villa resort from $1000/night. Includes use a personal golf cart, WiFi, and breakfast.

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Sidewalk Skimming in New York City

The Big Apple’s a sure thing for a high-octane weekend away with the gals. Reinvent your wardrobe in SoHo, dine in the Meatpacking District, and walk it off along the High Line, and that’s just day one. At once, New York has a way of welcoming old friends and energizing everyone, including tired moms of four. Return home a new woman. Just remember to bring your flats for city slicking and heels for girls’ night out.

Hotel: The Standard, from $295/night. Includes WiFi.

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Storm Watching in Tofino, British Columbia

The Pacific Ocean’s first point of contact with the West Coast and one of Canada’s wettest costal rainforests, Tofino’s weather can get a little wet and wild, performing one of the greatest shows on earth. Clouds bang like STOMP drums and waves rock and roll in this naturally occurring spectacle with open seating (and its free, of course). Watch from the beach in a rain slicker and Hunter Boots, or inside your waterfront perch with a just-popped flute of bubbly.

Hotel: The Pacific Sands Beach Resort. Two-bedroom beach houses from $410/night.

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Glamping in Appin, Scotland

Halfway between Oban, the gateway to the Isles, and Fort William, the outdoor capital of the UK, get the girls together for a bit of sea kayaking along Scotland’s rugged West Coast, followed by stargazing in a Japanese soaker tub. Reconnect with your inner ‘outdoor enthusiast’ in a high-style, with up close and personal wilderness encounters in a heavy-duty, camo-print tent with skylights and mid-century modern furniture. And if any of the gals need a backcountry pep talk, tell them a complementary hamper with dived scallops, handmade chocolates, and a decanter of Scottish malt whiskey is gifted at check-in.

Hotel: Ecopod Boutique Retreat, from $800 for three nights, WiFi included.

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Infectious Music and Malbec in Buenos Aires

Stylish and sultry, elegant and edgy, Buenos Aires indulges in fashion, food, wine, architecture, and dance with equal abandon. Arrive with an empty stomach and a pair, or two, of dancing shoes (either for learning the tango or reckless club-hopping until 5am), and join locals at 9pm for a multi-hour steakhouse dinner, feasting on bife de lomo, and goblets of local Malbec. With a roster of red wine, high-heeled shoes and tango, this getaway will sell itself with the gals.

Hotel: Mine Boutique Hotel, from $135/night. Includes WiFi.

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Sacred Spa Weekend

A trip to the spa is a sacred lady-retreat. Cucumber slices over the eyes and a eucalyptus-scented towel wrapped around the body, it’s one of the few times you get to bond with your girls without even talking. Even booking one treatment at a large-scale resort spa usually means you experiencing a full day of spa-use which can include morning yoga, a light snack, time in the relaxation room or sauna, and a dip in the mineral pool or hot waterfall. It also means you don’t necessarily need to stray too far from home, making the ‘getaway’ infinitely more affordable.

Tip: Book a stay and spa package at your favorite nearby resort, or for inspiration, peruse SpaFinder.

Photo credits: 1. Portland: urban farmer cider waffles, apple butter, blueberry bourbon syrup by Krista
Attribution-NonCommercial License; 2. Courtesy of Trish Friesen; 3. Arizona: Four Peaks from Sunrise Peak trail – McDowell Sonoran Preserve by
Attribution-NoDerivs License; 4. Courtesy of Trish Friesen; 5. Courtesy of Trish Friesen; 6. High-line: High Line Park via Shutterstock.com; 7. Tofino: Tofino via Shutterstock.com; 8. Scotland: Courtesy of Ecopod Boutique Resort; 9. Argentina: tango color by Zabara Alexander
Attribution-NonCommercial License; 10. Spa: Joshua Hodge Photography/iStockphotoB

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Four Must-See Fashion Exhibits in Paris

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

By Jennifer Ladonne

Fashion and culture collide in Paris this spring with four superb exhibitions that brilliantly encapsulate the sophistication, glamour, and opulence of fashion and costume design now and through the ages.

To start, Cité de la Mode et du Design, at the just-opened Les Docks design center, is hosting side-by-side exhibitions dedicated to fashion giants Cristobal Balenciaga and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons. Organized as part of Le Musee Galliera‘s roving “extramural” exhibits during the renovation of the fashion museum’s usual premises, the two exhibits offer a rare opportunity to view collections that bear the personal imprimatur of two titans of design.

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Crist��bal Balenciaga: Collectionneur de Modes

Balenciaga himself assembled the more than 65 items on display in “Cristóbal Balenciaga: Collectionneur de Modes”—the earliest dating from the 17th-century—that both inspired the Spanish master’s work and best expressed his genius; including sketches, embroideries and fabrics, accessories, jewels, and iconic examples of the designer’s haute couture. Rendered with deceptive simplicity, Balenciaga’s exquisite garments are considered among the pinnacles of 20th-century fashion design. The collection on view was donated to the museum in 1979, seven years after Balenciaga’s death, and is displayed in its entirety for the first time.

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Comme des Garçons White Drama

In contrast to the Balenciaga show’s dominant black, “Comme des Garçons White Drama,” featuring fashions from the Comme des Garçon Spring 2012 collection, displays the unconventional brilliance of the Japanese designer’s vision all in pristine white. Evoking the ceremonial passage through life—birth, marriage, death, transcendence—these iconoclastic creations evoke many moods and extremes: the fragility of cascading blossoms and lace, the refined interiority of a silk cocoon, the muted violence of the straightjacket. Displayed in transparent bubbles, this resplendent show was curated and installed by Kawakubo herself.

Details: Both exhibits on view at Cite de la Mode et du Design, through October 7

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Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs

Mr. Jacobs was also closely involved in staging Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs at Les Arts Decoratifs, which contrasts the two innovators whose names were linked in 1997, when Jacobs was tapped to launch the luxury goods company’s first ready-to-wear collection.

Those who know the name Louis Vuitton only by the bags and recent fashions will discover the man behind the legend, who carved his niche as a malletier (trunk maker) in the mid-19th century, at the dawn of the industrial age and the advent of mass travel. Among the displays on view are examples of a well-dressed 19th-century woman’s extravagant wardrobe, who required up to seven outfit changes a day and 30 odd-sized trunks and cases to transport everything from hats to hoops.

Vuitton’s skill as a craftsman, his knack for predicting trends, and his prodigious ingenuity are revealed through drawings, advertisements and examples of his work.

Follow the pulsing music to the darkened halls upstairs, where a video wall, outrageously outfitted mannequins and a “chocolate box” of the flamboyant bags, displayed like tantalizing bonbons, welcome you to Marc Jacobs’ world. The hyper-charged imagery, exuberant clothing, and iconic examples from his collaborations with emblematic figures in contemporary art, like Takashi Murakami and Stephen Sprouse, make a fine piece of theatrical showmanship. But it’s the global fashion star’s sheer joy that comes through best of all.

Details: Les Arts Decoratifs, through September 9

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Kabuki: Costumes du Theatre Japonais

It doesn’t get more opulent than Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent’s exhibition “Kabuki: Costumes du Theatre Japonais.” The 30 costumes on display in the deep red and black lacquered gallery illuminate the rarified, male-only world of the Kabuki repertoire. Costumes range from sumptuous and richly embroidered silk kimonos—like a majestic ivory silk number engulfed in painted flames with singed edges—to more modest examples in cotton and one very rare paper kimono bearing only the words of a love letter.

The Exhibition is divided into three parts: costumes from the best-known plays, dance costumes, and ancient costumes. It also includes historical illustrations, videos of live performances, a short English-language documentary, and other accoutrements of this 400-year-old art form that is included on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

Details: Fondation Pierre Berge Yves Saint Laurent, through July 15

Thinking of a trip to Paris?

For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, plus the best planning advice, check out our online Paris Travel Guide.

Photo Credits: Balenciaga and Comme des Garçon: © Pierre Antoine; Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs: © LOUIS VUITTON/CHRIS MOORE; Kabuki: © Luc Castel

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Travel guide: Pattaya

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

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You can introduce your kids to edutianment reading with our Student Weekly magazine: Thailand’s only all-English entertainment and education magazine for teens and all ages.

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Chinese, Russian governments to deepen ties

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang yesterday called for Chinese and Russian local governments to increase cooperation and investments, an important step to deepen ties in key areas.

Li made the remark when meeting local leaders of the Volga Federal District in the city of Kazan on the last day of his four-day visit to Russia. He will continue to Hungary, Belgium and the European Union headquarters.

Li said active cooperation between the two countries’ local governments is an important element in enhancing cooperation, in addition to the efforts made by the central governments.

An attitude of openness is especially important, Li stressed.

China is already Russia’s largest trading partner and its second-largest export market.

On Saturday, the two sides signed 27 agreements worth US$15 billion, covering energy, equipment, IT and finance.

At the China-Russia Trade and Investment Promotion Forum in Moscow on Saturday, Li named several new areas including high-end equipment, new energy and financial services for cooperation, and urged the two sides to increase bilateral investments.

However, Mikhail Babich, head of the Volga Federal District, noted that the investment environment in Russia is not good enough yet and Russia should make more efforts to improve its investing environment.

The Volga Federal District is the most industrial in Russia, and is known for its auto, rocket, agriculture and oil industries. About 20 per cent of Russia’s oil is produced in this district.

Vasiliy Bochkaryov, governor of Penza region, one of 83 such regions in Russia, hopes to cooperate with Chinese local governments in wood processing and vegetable production.

Jiang Yikang, Party secretary of Shandong province, suggested setting up regulated and effective communication mechanisms for local cooperation as soon as possible, adding that Shandong province hopes to increase tourism cooperation with Russia.

Valeriy Radaev, governor of the Saratov region, said he hopes to have more foreign investments from China, and hopes to cooperate with China in science and technology.

Two-way investment has rapidly risen in recent years. By the end of 2011, Russia’s accumulative investment in China was $818 million, mainly in the fields of manufacturing, construction and transport.

China’s investment in Russia was $2.91 billion, mostly in energy, agriculture, forestry, telecommunications, construction and service sectors.

However, bilateral investment was $4 billion, less than 2 per cent of the total foreign direct investment of the two nations, which is “still quite small”, Li said. “The volume is small but … the potential is huge.”

Zhong Shan, deputy minister of commerce, said on Saturday’s forum that the reason for the small number of bilateral investments is lack of a good communication mechanism.

“Our governments should create conditions for the companies to have more communication,” he said.

Despite the European debt crisis, China-Russia trade in 2011 surged 42.7 per cent on the previous year to $79.25 billion, outperforming the 22.5 per cent growth in China’s total foreign trade over the same period.

Oil projects

“To push forward gas cooperation, China has proposed a brand new gas model and had received a positive response from the Russian side,” Liu Tienan, head of the National Energy Administration, said during his visit to Moscow as part of a delegation led by Vice-Premier Li.

He is confident in finding agreement as companies begin discussions and consultation on the new model.

Liu said the parties have made major technical progress on two gas pipelines but a price has not been agreed on.

Talks between China, the world’s fastest-growing energy consumer, and Russia, the world’s largest conventional gas producer, stalled late last year.

Yet the two economies remain complimentary, Liu said.

Oil and gas make up more thanಔ per cent of Russia’s GDP, while China depends heavily on oil imports – more than 55 per cent of oil consumption – to support its economic growth.

In the past decade, gas consumption in China has climbed from 24.5 billion to 110 billion cubic meters, annual growth of 16.2 per cent.

With the rapid progress in industrialisation and urbanisation, demand is keen for clean energy such as natural gas, Liu said.

Forecasts have shown that demand for natural gas in China will have doubled by 2015, so safe and reliable natural gas pipelines are important for the country, he added.

China has also increased its supplies from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Earlier on Saturday, Jiang Jiemin, chairman of China National Petroleum Corp, told Xinhua News Agency that the company has signed an agreement with Gazprom.

Under the terms of the deal, which was nearly finalised last year, Russia would sell up to 68 billion cubic meters of pipeline gas per year to China, more gas than it ships to any single European customer.

Wang Zhuoqiong contributed to this story.

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/1edb9a2d/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Chome0Cnews0Bphp0Did0F30A0A50A/story01.htm

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Thousands of Indonesians to stage May Day rallies

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

Labour unions in different cities across Indonesia have pledged to stage massive rallies in different places on May Day, which falls on Tuesday.

Bekasi-based labour activist Obon Tabroni confirmed yesterday that some 35,000 labourers from Bekasi would join the May Day massive rally in the heart of Jakarta.

â€�“We will meet at the Bundaran HI traffic circle at 7:30 am and march to the Presidential Palace. We will end the long march at the Bung Karno stadium to join a massive labour meeting,â€� Obon told The Jakarta Post.

He added that up to 100,000 labourers from across the Greater Jakarta area would join the yearly event and demand that the government revise the remuneration system and eliminate outsourcing practices, among others.

In Yogyakarta, thousands of labourers from four regencies in the province would march from Abu Bakar Ali park to the House of Regional Representatives’ office via Jl. Malioboro.

“Not only labourers, but students and human rights activists have also expressed their willingness to join the long march,� Yogyakarta labourers Alliance secretary general Kirnadi said.

The Yogyakarta long march is aimed at reiterating workers�� demand of eight working hours for labourers.

“We also want to remind the President to implement the social security scheme for all Indonesian citizens in January 2014,�¢â‚�� he said.

Yogyakarta labour activist Diniyah said that labourers and activists held a cultural event yesterday, which included mass prayer and poetry reading, as preparation ahead of the rally.

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/5򅜪/s/1edb9b37/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Chome0Cnews0Bphp0Did0F30A0A51/story01.htm

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4 Korean civil servants injured by Chinese fishermen

Posted on 30 April 2012 by admin

Four South Korean civil servants were injured in an attack by Chinese fishermen illegally operating off the coast of South Jeolla Province on Monday.

According to the local authorities, four civil servants tasked with controlling illegal fishing activities were attacked while attempting to board a Chinese fishing boat 45 miles west of the sland of Hong-do in Heuksan County at about 2:15am.

The injured civil servants have been taken to a hospital in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province.

The Chinese vessel then attempted to escape but was captured by a Korea Coast Guard vessel after a two-hour chase.

Nine fishermen were arrested at the scene and are being taken to Mokpo.

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/5666Ǣ/s/1edb7a28/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Chome0Cnews0Bphp0Did0F30A0A53/story01.htm

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