Aug
24

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“Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence on Tuesday topped a Forbes magazine list of the world’s highest-paid actress for the second straight year, earning some $46 million, followed by Melissa McCarthy.

Lawrence, 26, took the top spot largely through a slice of the profits from the final movie in the “Hunger Games” franchise, as well as a big upfront fee for her forthcoming space adventure movie “Passengers,” Forbes said.

Yet Lawrence’s estimated payday was likely well below that for Hollywood’s leading men, Forbes said, despite the actress sparking a debate about the gender pay gap last year. She declared she was “finished being adorable” when it came to negotiating better deals for herself.

Lawrence’s 2016 earnings dropped 11.5 percent from her 2015 total of $52 million. Forbes will release its list of the world’s highest-paid actors on Thursday. Last year Robert Downey Jr. topped the list with an estimated $80 million.

Neither however came close to pop star Taylor Swift, who was named the top earning celebrity of 2016 earlier this year, pulling in an estimated $170 million from record sales and her world tour.

McCarthy took home $33 million in earnings, up $10 million from 2015 in part from her payday for the controversial female reboot of “Ghostbusters.”

It was the biggest annual paycheck to date for the star of television comedy “Mike and Molly.” McCarthy, 45, also launched a clothing line for sizes 4 to 28 after becoming frustrated at the outfits available for larger women.

Scarlett Johansson of “Captain America: Civil Wars” was third at $25 million, down nearly 30 percent from 2015.

Together, the world’s 10 highest-paid actresses tallied a combined $205 million between June 1, 2015 and June 1, 2016, before management fees and taxes, Forbes said.

The estimates include earnings from movies, TV and endorsements from cosmetic and other companies. Bollywood star Deepika Padukone is the only newcomer on the list.

The rest of the top 10, 2016 highest-paid actresses are:

4. Jennifer Aniston – $21 million

5. Fan Bingbing – $17 million

6. Charlize Theron – $16.5 million

7. Amy Adams – $13.5 million

8. Julia Roberts – $12 million

9. Mila Kunis – $11 million

10. Deepika Padukone – $10 million

Aug
24

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KARACHI: The latest issue of Urdu quarterly ‘Lauh’ has upheld its tradition as it maintained in two of its previous two editions.

The quarterly edited by Mumtaz Ahmed Shaikh has covered each and every aspect of contemporary literature and literary trends. It has published as usual Urdu poetry, short stories, travelogues, some parts of novels of several noted writers, poetry of renowned poets, articles by famous writers on all important topics and issues.

Besides it has provided an opportunity to many promising writers and those who are relatively not well known but they have presented more worthy and meaningful writing and this thing shows the acumen and insight of the editor to judge the actual worth of the writings and publish them on merit and according to the worth and status of the writings and not the writers in spite of the fact that they are less known in comparative to other famous writers who have been published in this issue as well.

In other words one can say that Mumtaz Ahmed Shaikh is so serious in making his quarterly a perfect document on literature instead of publishing people without caring merit and worth of the writings and writers and certainly this is an appreciable act.

The latest issue of ‘Lauh’ also experienced presentation of writings on famous foreign writers besides presentation of their translations in Urdu language.

Another aspect of the latest issues is the discussions it raised on different important question on literature, art, culture, music and other formats.

The editorial itself sounds very nice and rather innovative. Mumtaz Shaikh has underlined his objective to publish ‘Lauch’ in a manner that it could be helpful for the students of the literature in completing their thesis (of MPhil and Ph.D) and certainly this is a great aim and shows the actual zeal behind the publication of ‘Lauch’.

Many important issues on literature such as ‘impact of Hindi language’ on Urdu ‘ghazal’, ‘Maa ba’ad jaded culture ki jamaliat’, ‘Nazm mine jidato qadamat ka qazeeya aur teesri lehr’ ‘Shah Turab Ali Qalandar and unn ki Urdu shairi ki kaaynaat’ Munsha Yaad k afsanon ka aik zimni mo’azoo’ have also been covered by Dr Abdul Waid Tabbasum, Dr Iqbal A’afaqi, Dr Ashad Mehmmod Nashaad,  and Muhammad Hameed Shahid respectively.

The issue in terms of content and presentation sounds more meaningful and perfect beyond doubt.

Aug
24

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DUBAI: The world’s largest indoor theme park is set to open in Dubai this month to lure back some of the tourists and residents who often flee abroad during the scorching desert summer.

In a sandy suburb beyond Dubai’s concrete jungle and pockets of artificially green spaces, IMG Worlds of Adventure’s boxy exterior belies a 140,000-square metre (1.5 million-square foot) air-conditioned cathedral of entertainment teeming with animatronic dinosaurs, roller coasters, Marvel superheroes and Cartoon Network characters.

Zombies pop out from dark corners of a haunted house and the Velociraptor coaster throttles passengers within a misty simulated rain forest dubbed the Lost Valley.

As it stands now, stir-crazy families in Dubai – a tourism and financial hub which already boasts the world’s tallest building – have few places to stretch their legs beyond expensive malls while temperatures outside can approach 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

Even an indoor ski slope, complete with real-life penguins, has not been enough to stanch the exodus that leaves roads and public spaces eerily quiet through the hot months.

“Dubai still suffers from a certain amount of seasonality during the June, July, August period,” Lennard Otto, CEO of the new $1 billion attraction, told Reuters.

“We will hopefully drive tourism in those periods to make Dubai an all-year-round destination,” he said, ahead of the theme park’s Aug. 31 opening.

“Today there’s a gap in this market and in the region. People are actually travelling to the far east and the far west to experience theme parks,” Otto said.

Both the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, and Saudi Arabia have launched initiatives this year to create more fun for their car and smartphone-obsessed people.

As part of a plan to diversify its economy away from oil, Saudi Arabia announced in June that it was in talks with Six Flags Entertainment Corp to build theme parks, and the UAE created a “Happiness Ministry” in February to look at ways of measuring and improving quality of life.

Happiness in Dubai may soon be in no short supply, as a government-backed rival by Dubai Parks and Resorts will open by year’s end, while a Fox-branded theme park, with attractions based on TV and film titles such as “Ice Age” and “The Simpsons”, is set to open in 2020.

Aug
24

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Finnish mobile game and animation maker Rovio Entertainment Ltd said on Wednesday it made a profit in the first half of the year and was planning a sequel to its successful Angry Birds Movie.

Rovio’s adjusted operating profit in the first six months of 2016 was 5.7 million euros ($6.4 million) compared with a loss of 10 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 16 percent to 76.4 million euros on the back of higher game sales.

The figures do not include profits from its 3D Angry birds movie which has earned more than $347 million at the box office worldwide since its release in May, Rovio said.

“We currently have several exciting new games and other projects in development, including new IP, and we have started planning the sequel to The Angry Birds Movie,” Chief Executive Kati Levoranta said in a statement.

Privately-held Rovio financed the first film from its own pocket in a bold bet to revive the ageing Angry Birds brand.

Last year, Rovio cut a third of its staff, hived off non-core businesses, changed CEO and booked an annual loss of 13 million euros.

Aug
24

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MUMBAI: Indian gold refiners just months ago were ramping up capacity and struggling to secure enough ore from miners. Now, they are suspending operations as a surge in smuggled bullion wipes out wafer thin margins.

Gold importing banks and big jewelers have also been hit by the growing entry of illicit gold, which avoids import duties and makes its way on to the so-called “grey market” where it is sold to end-users at a discount.

Smuggled gold could account for more than a third of demand this year in India – the world’s second-biggest buyer of the metal after China – potentially costing the government over $1 billion in lost revenue.

The upsurge will lead to pressure for a reduction in the 10 percent import duty and a rethink on recently introduced levies on gold jewelry, which critics say are boosting the unofficial trade the government has been trying to curb.

“Gold refiners have less than a 1 percent margin. If smugglers offer 4 or 5 percent discounts, then we have no choice but to close our operations,” James Jose, secretary of the Association of Gold Refineries and Mints told Reuters.

All 32 refineries in the country have stopped buying dore – a semi-pure alloy made by miners – in the past few months and are relying on treating scrap gold until market conditions normalize, he said.

“Last fiscal year we refined 120 tonnes of gold. With local scrap supplies we can produce 20 tonnes of refined gold in the current year,” said Rajesh Khosla, managing director of MMTC-PAMP India, the country’s biggest refinery.

SMUGGLING GROWS

India raised the duty on gold imports to 10 percent three years ago, aiming to dampen buying and narrow the current account deficit in a country where gold is seen as a store of wealth for rich and poor alike.

Smugglers evade the duty and offer cheap gold to buyers such as bullion dealers and small jewelers, who can pay up to $100 an ounce below official domestic prices, currently around $1,340 an ounce.

Falling gold prices deterred the illicit trade last year but smuggling has surged in recent months amid rising prices and the reintroduction in March of a 1 percent local sales tax on gold jewelry.

Smuggled gold into India could double to as much as 300 tonnes in 2016, said Bachhraj Bamalwa, director at All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation, although the World Gold Council (WGC) has put the figure at 160 tonnes. At 300 tonnes, the government would forego about $1.3 billion at current gold prices.

The new sales tax has encouraged smaller jewelers in particular to buy on the grey market, said Somasundaram PR, managing director of the WGCs’ Indian operations. The jewelry must be sold without receipts, but goes to customers looking to hide funds from the authorities.

The finance ministry did not respond to requests for comment on gold smuggling.

BANKS HIT

The legal trade is also facing headwinds from a 26 percent rise in the gold price this year which has discouraged overall buying and made smuggled gold available at deep discounts.

India’s official gold imports fell 57 percent in the first seven months of 2016 to 215 tonnes, and could fall more than 60 percent for the year to 350 tonnes to 400 tonnes, the lowest level in two decades, said Sunil Kashyap, managing director, Global Banking and Markets at Scotiabank.

Banks, which until last year were the main source of gold supply, are losing their market share quickly.

“Since there were hefty discounts in the grey market, consumers shifted from banks to grey markets,” Arindam Sarkar, senior vice president at Axis Bank, the biggest bullion importing bank in the country, told Reuters.

“So far in 2016 our bullion business is down nearly 75 percent,” he said.

Bigger, more reputable jewelers are also suffering.

“Small jewelers buy gold at 4 or 5 percent discount and then sell jewelry at 1 or 2 percent discount,” said Aditya Pethe, a director at Waman Hari Pethe Jewellers in Mumbai.

“The business of big jewelers like us is getting affected.

But jewelers buying from the grey market say they have little choice.

“I wasn’t buying gold from grey market for months, but others were buying and doing business,” said a Mumbai-based jeweler, who declined to be identified.

“In the last two months I’ve also started buying as I have to survive. I have to pay employees.”

Aug
24

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LONDON: Trampoline parks may be a lot of fun for kids, but a new study of injuries from one hospital in Australia adds to growing evidence suggesting these facilities can also be dangerous for children.

The hospital is located just about three and a half miles from an indoor trampoline park that opened in July 2014.

In the first six months after the park opened, the hospital treated 40 children under age 17 for trampoline injuries sustained at this facility. Most children had soft tissue injuries, though about one-third had fractures, researchers report in the journal Injury Prevention.

Failed landings were usually the culprit, said lead study author Christopher Mulligan of Sydney Children’s Hospital and the University of New South Wales’ Neuroscience Research.

“When children were injured bouncing alone on a trampoline, this was most often due to failed landings after summersaults or tricks, though there were also a few cases of kids landing outside the trampoline areas, such as on the surrounding padding mats,” Mulligan said by email.

“When more than one person jumps on a small trampoline at the same time, they increase the risk of direct collision,” Mulligan added. “With the increased weight and energy of another person, the smaller sized jumper can also be projected higher and further than expected, which increases the risk of a failed landing.”

The study is small, and it’s possible only the more seriously injured children from the trampoline park landed in the hospital, the authors note. This might exaggerate the proportion of fractures and serious accidents.

But the findings come on the heels of a U.S. study this month documenting a surge in injuries that has mirrored the growing popularity of trampoline parks.

From 2010 to 2014, the average annual number of U.S. emergency room visits for trampoline injuries was close to 92,000, according to the study in Pediatrics.

The vast majority of these U.S. injuries happened at home – but injuries at trampoline parks surged more than 10-fold during the study period. In 2014, injuries at trampoline parks accounted for almost 7,000 emergency room visits, the study found.

Nationwide, the number of U.S. trampoline parks grew from about 40 in 2011 to 280 in 2014. An estimated five to six new parks open each month, and there were probably about 450 total by the end of last year.

In Australia, Mulligan and colleagues note, more than 20 commercial trampoline parks have opened in the past three years, with an estimated three new centers opening every month.“The important risks to consider are the risks of serious injury, like spinal cord injuries or fractures requiring surgery,” Dr.

Kathryn Kasmire of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, lead author of the U.S. study, said after reviewing the findings from Australia.

“The risks cannot be completely avoided even if safe jumping practices are followed,” Kasmire added by email.

For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against recreational trampoline use. When trampolines are used for fun, kids should have constant adult supervision and adequate protective padding, and there should be just one jumper at a time, the AAP recommends. Kids should also avoid flips and somersaults, the doctors group advises.

“The physical and mental health benefits of sports are important for a child’s development, and there are many aerobic activities that are safe and appropriate for children,” said Dr. Gary Smith, lead author of the AAP recommendations on trampolines and president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance in Columbus, Ohio.

“Trampoline use can be one of them if done under appropriate supervision and in an appropriate environment – which is not in a trampoline park or in the back yard,” Smith, who wasn’t involved in either study, added by email.

“If a child would like to use a trampoline, the child should do so under the supervision of a trained instructor, who can safely progress the child through maneuvers as the child gains skills,” Smith said.

Aug
24

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MIAMI: Five new cases of Zika have been found in the tourist hotspot of Miami Beach, signaling that local transmission of a virus blamed for birth defects is spreading, Florida officials said Friday.

“This means we have a new area” of local transmission, Governor Rick Scott said at a press conference.

The Health Department confirmed that five individuals have been confirmed as cases of local Zika transmission in the Miami Beach area.

Florida now has 36 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus, which is typically spread by mosquitoes but also by sexual contact.

The size of zone in Miami Beach where active Zika transmission is occurring is just under 1.5 square miles (3.9 square kilometers).

Officials had previously said Zika was spreading in a one-square-mile zone north of downtown Miami called Wynwood, where more than two dozen people were believed to have been infected by mosquitoes carrying the virus.

Zika is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it raises the risk of birth defects.