The New York Times lists Singapore as top destination in Asia for 2015

Straits Times (Singapore)

The New York Times has listed Singapore as the top place to visit in Asia, and no. 6 in a global list of 52 places to visit in 2015.

NYT published this list on Jan 9.

In its list, NYT cited Singapore’s 50th birthday celebrations as the main attraction.

It’s a year-long birthday party, and the world is invited,” the newspaper wrote in the travel feature.

Highlights include the Chingay parade in February, the new National Gallery Singapore, and the National Day Parade in August, NYT pointed out.

NYT’s top recommendation for 2015 is Milan in Italy, which is hosting the 2015 World Expo from May through October.

The Times said its list was culled from a few hundred ideas from its contributing writers, which it then selected from.

We aim for a selection of places that we expect to be particularly compelling in the coming year; reasons might include a museum opening, a new transportation option or a historical anniversary,” it explained in an article How we Chose our List.

Earlier, travel guide Lonely Planet also included Singapore in its top 10 countries to visit in 2015.

The company said in October last year: “As one of the world’s most multicultural cities, Singapore is always celebrating something.

“But Asia’s smallest state has an extra special reason to put on her party hat in 2015, for it’s her Golden Jubilee.”

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China blocks the Guardian (UK) website

China Internet

The website of Britain’s the Guardian newspaper has been blocked in China since Tuesday, for no apparent reason. While US publications and journalists have been coming under pressure from Chinese censors for a number of years, this is the first time a major UK publication has been blocked.

A source in Beijing confirmed that theguardian.com was still blocked as of 4.26pm local time Wednesday, and could only be accessed through a VPN service. Another reader confirmed the same from Shanghai.

The websites of the New York Times and Bloomberg have been blocked by Beijing since both published reports in 2012 on the wealth of Chinese leaders’ families. However, the Guardian claimed, “no China-related stories published by the Guardian in the past two days would obviously be perceived as dangerous by the country’s leadership.”

As of Wednesday afternoon there was no sign of the Guardian website being unblocked. Major websites have been blocked temporarily before and later unblocked, so this may be a temporary measure. Last month Chinese immigration withheld visas from some NYT and Bloomberg reporters in what appeared to be an intimidation tactic, before later issuing them.

The censorhip of the Guardian website was initially confirmed by website monitoring site Greatfire.com.

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China blocks the Guardian (UK) website

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The incredible business card of the Chinese millionaire who wants to buy The New York Times

 

RocketNews 24: 

Chen card

Chen Guangbiao is an audacious man, and not just because he wants to buy the New York Times for $1 billion (or $2 billion or $3 billion).

One of China’s top 400 richest people, he was estimated to have a personal fortune of worth $740 million in 2012, but how he’s really made his name is by high-profile charity donations — something he brands “flashy philanthropy.”

One interesting insight into Chen’s mindset might be to look at his English-language business card, one of a number of promotional materials he gives out to U.S. journalists. We’re not sure quite how Chen got all those titles on the right, but it’s incredible anyway.

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The incredible business card of the Chinese millionaire who wants to buy The New York Times

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Chinese millionaire claims to be “in talks” to buy the NY Times

 

File photo of Chen Guangbiao jumping on the roofs of cars he bought as presents to owners of Japanese cars damaged in anti-Japan protests. (AFP Photo)

First he handed out cash to victims of China‘s 2008 earthquake. Then he sold “canned fresh air” to residents of smog-ridden Beijing.

The colorful millionaire, Chen Guangbiao, claims he is in talks to buy the New York Times.

Guangbiao is best known for his outlandish displays of goodwill including when he handed out cash to victims of China’s 2008  earthquake and sold “canned fresh air”to residents of smog-ridden Beijing.

According to the Chinese wealth publisher the Huran Report, Chen’s estimated worth is $825 million. He built his fortune on the recycling company, Huangpu Renewable Resources Utilisation Group.

When asked to describe the talks in more detail, Guangbiao said, ”the negotiation is currently underway”.

However, the New York Times has denied that the newspaper is for sale. In August the publication released the following statement from New York Times Company chairman, Arthur Sulzberger, in reaction to the sale of the Washington Post to Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos.

After a week in which both The Boston Globe and The Washington Post were purchased by new owners, the publisher of The New York Times emphatically declared… that the publication was not for sale.”

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Chinese millionaire claims to be “in talks” to buy the NY Times

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Maggie Q and Lucy Liu: Asian-Americans as Leading Ladies

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NY Times: The CW series “Nikita” begins its fourth and final season on Friday — an abbreviated run to tie up story lines, as the reluctant assassin Nikita stands falsely accused of killing the president — and while there’s still a chance, I’d like to celebrate a small but significant milestone. For six more weeks, two of the strongest and most interesting female leads on television are being played by Asian-American actresses.

I’m talking about Maggie Q, finishing her turn as Nikita, and Lucy Liu, in her second season as Joan Watson on CBS’s “Elementary,” where she is every bit as central as Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock Holmes. Both shows have their formulaic elements, but Nikita and Joan are noncartoonish, reasonably complex, multidimensional characters, and in prime time, there aren’t too many actresses getting that kind of opportunity in a lead role. Julianna Margulies in “The Good Wife,” Connie Britton in “Nashville,” Claire Danes in “Homeland,” Lizzy Caplan in “Masters of Sex.” It’s a short list.

Of course, that broader look also indicates that the overall picture for Asian actresses (American, Canadian and otherwise) isn’t so happy. A lot of them are working, but in roles far down the food chain from Nikita and Watson, and often playing characters conceived or shaped to reflect longstanding stereotypes about Asians.

Even Maggie Q and Ms. Liu haven’t completely escaped those archetypes. Both are playing the latest iterations of durable characters traditionally inhabited by white performers, so it would seem that race shouldn’t have any particular bearing. But the truth is that they resonate with two of the most common sets of images — or clichés — about Asian women: the high-achieving, socially awkward Dr. Joan Watson is a refined example of the sexy nerd, and the lethal, sometimes icy Nikita, able to dispense violence while wearing tight, microscopic outfits, evokes a long line of dragon ladies and ninja killers.

(You could argue that the association exists only because Maggie Q was cast as Nikita, who is based on a French film character, but it’s a self-canceling argument: The men who created the show sought her out for the role.)

In both cases, though, the actresses and their writers have avoided or transcended easy stereotypes. A lot of effort has gone into humanizing Nikita, and making her a sisterly or even maternal figure for the younger assassin Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca), and the emphasis on violent action has decreased over the show’s run. In “Elementary,” Watson has embraced her role as apprentice detective after suffering a catastrophic failure as a doctor, taking some of the shine off her super-competence. And unlike other characters in the same mold, she appears to have a normal, nonneurotic romantic life.

Clothes also tell a tale. Maggie Q fought some battles over her costumes in the early days of “Nikita,” and she has spent progressively more time in plain, covered-up (though still closefitting) workout-style ensembles and less in skimpy red dresses. Ms. Liu’s outfits, mostly chosen by the costume designer Rebecca Hofherr, have attracted a following of their own. The majority opinion seems to be that they reflect Watson’s quirky but confident style. To my eye, they have a clever awfulness, making Ms. Liu look good while signaling that perhaps she doesn’t spend as much time as she could in front of a mirror.

Either way, what Watson’s clothes don’t do is make her look ridiculous or hide Ms. Liu’s attractiveness. That’s the fate of some other Asian-American actresses in roles that play more obviously to geekiness or braininess, and are visually coded for easy comprehension. Liza Lapira wears fright clothes and dowdy haircuts as the sidekick Helen-Alice on “Super Fun Night” (ABC), something she already endured as the eccentric neighbor on “Don’t Trust the B — — in Apt. 23” last season. On “Awkward(MTV), Jessica Lu, as the rebellious daughter of strict Chinese parents, sports a hat with ears while Jessika Van, as her Asian rival, is dressed in starched outfits that make her look like an Amish schoolteacher. Both Ms. Lapira and Ms. Lu are accessorized with glasses — big black ones — something neither appears to wear in real life. Also occasionally donning glasses is Brenda Song as a video-game company executive in “Dads,” on Fox, though her most distinctive costume remains the sailor-girl outfit she wore in the pilot, part of an extended joke about the sexualization of Asian women that didn’t accomplish much besides sexualizing an Asian woman.

And there are other actresses playing less evolved versions of the Nikita-style action hero. Ming-Na Wen’s Melinda May, the black-leather-jacketed pilot in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (ABC), is a stoic enforcer with a dragon-lady vibe; Grace Park’s Kono Kalakaua on “Hawaii Five-0” (CBS) is equally lethal (she often does most of the kicking and punching) but favors bikinis and tight jeans. On “Once Upon a Time” (ABC), Jamie Chung plays the Disney version of a mythical Chinese swordswoman.

It takes some looking to find Asian actresses in roles that don’t easily fit into one of these two broad categories. There are a few jobs in a third category, the manipulative or overly protective Asian mother: Jodi Long on “Sullivan and Son” (TBS), Lauren Tom on “Supernatural” (CW). On the entertaining but paper-thin “Beauty and the Beast” (also on CW), Kristin Kreuk stars as a cop who just happens to be mixed race. There is, of course, a major Asian-Canadian female television star not mentioned yet: Sandra Oh, whose Dr. Cristina Yang is not the lead but is a major member of the ensemble on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” As with Nikita and Watson, Yang displays some typical Asian markers — she’s a hypercompetitive, socially awkward doctor — whose race is matter of fact because there’s so much more to know about her. Yang, along with Watson and Nikita, could be considered exceptions that prove a rule, but I think the real lesson here is probably that TV would be a better place for women of all races if Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal”) could just write all the shows.

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Maggie Q and Lucy Liu: Asian-Americans as Leading Ladies

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NY Times: “A Quiet Drink- Mixing and Matching Many Tastes of Japan”

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Takahiro Okada, a manager of the TriBeCa bar Shigure, said there were two ways customers could enjoy the distilled spirit shochu, a specialty of the house.

Lightly flavored shochus, like the barley-based Iichiko, are good mixed with soda water made on the premises with fresh lemon ($8) or in a cocktail like the Natsushima ($13), with muddled cucumber, honey, tonic and Kinmiya shochu (made with sugarcane). Both of these are refreshing last blasts of summer.

But then there are times when, to paraphrase Tina Turner on “Proud Mary,” you don’t do anything nice and easy.

In which case you’ll be sipping the shochus that, as Mr. Okada put it, are more like “the single malt Scotch whisky-type drink,” like a glass of Satoh on the rocks ($13). Satoh is a sweet-potato shochu, and the aroma will be familiar to anyone who has had peeling duty in late November. It makes for a drink that could accurately be described as savory.

Shigure, which opened in January above the cocktail-focused bar B Flat, has 24 shochus and 8 shochu cocktails on its list, making it a good place to do a little exploring.

There’s a similar commitment to Japanese beer, from the Asahi Super Dry on tap ($5 at happy hour, from 5 to 7 p.m. daily) to craft beers in bottles like the brisk Koshihikari from the Echigo brewery ($10 for 17 ounces) and a pleasantly hoppy Ozeno Yukidoke I.P.A. ($13). There is also selection of five beers from the Coedo brewery, including the Beniaka, another beverage made with sweet potatoes and not a bad prelude or chaser to the Satoh shochu.

Sakes can be ordered from a lengthy list either singly or in a happy-hour flight (three for $15). On a small tray on the table in a corner booth the other night were the Eiko Fuji Ban Ryu Honjozo (“light touch,” the menu says), the Chiyomusubi Goriki Junmai Ginjo (“ricey and clean”) and the Dassai Daiginjo (the menu has it as “round and smooth,” a description that underplays its pleasant anisettelike notes).

Almost all of the drinks at Shigure are better with food from its kitchen, small plates like the delicious fried chicken marinated in the fermented shio-koji sauce ($8; $6 at happy hour, and the best seller at all hours); charcoal-grilled shrimp ($8) and edamame ($6; $4 at happy hour); and the nicely grilled black cod that has been marinated in daiginjo sake lees ($15).

Everything is served in an airy, high-ceilinged space, with brick walls, dark wood tables and big windows looking out on Church Street. The lights are low (the volume, too).

Dominating the back wall at Shigure is a large map of Japan and its prefectures. Just about every shochu and sake on the Shigure menu is annotated with its prefecture of origin. The Satoh is from Kagoshima, the Eiko Fuji sake from Yamagata, the Goriki from Tottori.

Mr. Okada and Jiro Yamada, the other manager, redesigned what had been Aglio, an Italian restaurant, and they also put together the playlist of unobtrusive but interesting music here. If the menu were to describe that, it might say “unexpected and fun.” If you have the Shazam music-identification app on your phone you’re probably going to use it. There’s lounge music (“Thriller” and “Bad” by the Jazz Lounge Niki Band) and jazz (the organist Jimmy McGriff’s version of “What’s Going On”; the guitarist O’Donel Levy doing Bread’s “Make It With You”).

And then there are the songs that seem to come out of nowhere, like Johnny (Guitar) Watson’s “Real Mother for Ya” and James Brown’s “Hot Pants Part 1.” Everybody sing now: “The girl over there, with the hot pants on/She can do the chicken all night long.”

The word shigure can be translated as a sudden shower in autumn and carries with it the suggestion of a welcome surprise. It fits.

The particulars: Shigure, 277 Church St. Phone212-965-0200. Website: sakebar-shigure.com. Hours: 5 p.m.-2:30 or 3 a.m. daily (closing time depends on the crowd). Closed on national holidays.

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NY Times: “A Quiet Drink- Mixing and Matching Many Tastes of Japan”

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NY Times Best-Selling manga of the week

Sailor Moon

Here’s the New York Times Best-Selling manga of the week:

  1. SAILOR MOON SHORT STORIES, VOL. 1, by Naoko Takeuchi. (Kodansha Comics.)
  2. ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 1, by Hajime Isayama. (Kodansha Comics.)
  3. ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 6, by Hajime Isayama. (Kodansha Comics.)
  4. BLACK BUTLER, VOL. 1, by Yana Toboso. (Yen Press.)
  5. ONE PIECE, VOL. 68, by Eiichiro Oda. (VIZ Media.)
  6. DEMON LOVE SPELL, VOL. 4, by Mayu Shinjo. (VIZ Media.)
  7. ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 2, by Hajime Isayama. (Kodansha Comics.)
  8. NARUTO, VOL. 62, by Masashi Kishimoto. (VIZ Media.)
  9. ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 3, by Hajime Isayama. (Kodansha Comics.)
  10. NARUTO, VOL. 61, by Masashi Kishimoto. (VIZ Media.)

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NY Times Best-Selling manga of the week

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