theSundaily theSundaily en Make-up artists' race against time at London Fashion Week
Time is running out before Turkish designer Bora Aksu's show and the models are not yet ready to face the flashbulbs.

"We need everyone to speed up!" shouts Janeen Witherspoon, the chief make-up artist.

She is firm and authoritative but betrays no sign of nerves or stress, having been here countless times before.

The Irish Canadian, who works in the shadows to bring the magic to the catwalk, knows her job and keeps a cool head.

Hairdressers, junior make-up artists, photographers, producers, dressers, stylists, technicians and other members of the backstage team are dashing about around her.

The make-up tables bear large mirrors fringed with lightbulbs, where the models, wearing Aksu's outfits or partially undressed, sit patiently, indifferent to the whirlwind around them.

The clock is against them: they are due to present London-based Aksu's spring-summer 2018 collection in under an hour.

"We're always up against the time," Witherspoon told AFP, skilfully flying her brush across a young model's face.

"There's always a lot to do with make-up. We may have girls coming from other shows and they have a full face of make-up and we have to get that off and do the new look."

Brushes at the ready

Running a team of 10 make-up artists, Witherspoon is charged with transforming the faces of around 20 young female models about to step into the spotlights on the stage, with photographers poised, ready to send pictures flashing around the world.

In keeping with Aksu's collection, she uses a make-up style inspired by Maude Fealy, a US silent movie actress famed for her beauty.

Each model's make-up takes around 15 minutes, and besides applying it herself, Witherspoon checks and signs off on the work of each of her make-up artists.

"I'm sort of the conductor, and it's about my team and having all of them very close to me. They all understand me and they know how it works. It's about me going in and taking control," she said.

The models await their turn at a table covered in sandwiches, coffee and sweets.

"It's quite relaxing," Birthe Harms, an 18-year-old German model with blue-grey eyes and long, straight brown hair, said of getting her make-up done.

"I think about the show and try to prepare myself."

Liis-Kristiin Narska, a 17-year-old Estonian model, said she either thinks about her schoolwork or lets her mind wander while a team of six people whirl around her, some powdering her cheeks, others transforming her curly hair into an impressive mop.

"I've gotten use to it by now. At first it was super-cool to get make-up done on me.

"Now it's just regular. When it's over, it's interesting to see what the make-up artist does."

Last-minute adjustments

With the show about to start, Aksu rounds up the troops, the models queueing in single file ready to hit the stage. Leaving the tables, the make-up artists take up their palettes and continue working on the models seconds before they march out.

Noses, cheeks, lips, foreheads, eyelids, eyelashes, and even arms and legs are all double-checked and re-touched if necessary.

When the house lights go down, the make-up team uses special lamps to keep on working.

"We're just perfecting the looks," said Claudia Savage, 32, one of the team.

"We're looking at anything that needs to be taken down or powered; any imperfections that weren't spotted in the initial make-up," she said, revelling in the intensity of the last-minute adjustments.

"It's very exciting. It can be tough but it's enjoyable.

"It's adventurous, it's creative, it's fun. It can be very stressful at times and very challenging. But to do a job that you love, you don't feel like working."

Right on time, the show starts. And the make-up team can breathe at last. Mission accomplished. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Style Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:03:06 +0000 theSundaily 484687 at
Rival protests in Togo as government blasts street 'coup d'etat'
The rival demonstrations in Lome came a day after the opposition boycotted a vote on constitutional reform which would have included a presidential term limit, arguing that it was a ploy to let Gnassingbe remain in power till 2030.

The opposition wanted the limit to apply retroactively so that Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005, could not run again in 2020. His father Gnassingbe Eyadema ruled from 1967 till his death in 2005.

The opposition marches began at around 11am (1100 GMT, 6pm Malaysia) at three meeting points.

They came after giant rallies on September 6 and 7 seeking the president's ouster that drew more than 100,000 people on the streets — a record in a country which has been widely criticised for stifling democracy.

The protesters held up posters declaring "Faure must go" and "Free my country, 50 years is enough".

Police and soldiers armed with heavy machine guns flanked the streets in pick-up trucks. Mobile phone networks and 3G services appeared to have been severed.

"We are not jihadists, we are not rebels," said Abdallah, 42, a supporter of the Panafrican National Party (PNP). "We just want democracy, we are tired."

Communications Minister Guy Lorenzo condemned what he called a "coup d'etat" on the streets.

The government meanwhile asked the opposition to show "responsibility and restraint" and warned that "people of foreign nationalities were looking to participate in acts of violence" during the marches.

'Explosive situation'

More protests are planned on Thursday against what veteran opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre called "the monstrous machine that has been crushing Togo's people for more than 50 years".

He said there would be "no let-up" as long as Gnassingbe remains in power.

Comi Toulabor, head of research at the Institute of Political Studies in Bordeaux, called the counter-rallies by the ruling Union for the Republic (UNIR) party "a strategy to disrupt the opposition protest".

"It's very amateurish but it shows the party isn't ready to give way," he told AFP, calling the situation "explosive".

About one thousand UNIR supporters quietly gathered on the beach in Lome on Wednesday, some sitting in the shade of palm trees.

"It is a pleasure to be here," UNIR supporter Georgia, 34, told AFP. "We are peaceful."

One young protester said he received 5,000 CFA francs (7.50 euros, $9) to participate in the pro-government rally.

"You think we're here for politics?" asked Justin, 17, as his friends nodded approval.

The failure to pass the constitutional reform bill in parliament forced a referendum, which a member of the government said will be held in the coming months.

Gnassingbe has now won three elections, the results of which have been contested by the opposition.

Half of Togo's population lives below the poverty line, according to the United Nations, despite a GDP growth rate of five percent over the last three years. — AFP]]>
World Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:40:48 +0000 theSundaily 484685 at
Rouhani at UN defends Iran nuclear deal against 'rogue newcomers'
Hitting back at US President Donald Trump's threat to scrap the 2015 deal, Rouhani told the UN General Assembly that the deal had won global support and that its fate could not be decided by "one or two countries".

"It would be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics," Rouhani said, in a clear reference to Trump who blasted the deal in his UN address on Tuesday.

"The world will have lost a great opportunity," he declared.

The Iranian leader pledged to uphold the agreement and vowed to "respond decisively and resolutely" to violations of the deal that provides for sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

The deal was "overwhelmingly applauded by the international community and endorsed as part of Resolution 2231" adopted by the Security Council, Rouhani told the General Assembly.

"As such it belongs to the international community in its entirety and not only to one or two countries," he said.

Trump is due to report to the US Congress by Oct 15 on whether he can certify that Iran is upholding its side of the accord, under which it accepted limits on its nuclear program.

On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that he had reached a decision, but did not elaborate.

"I have decided. I'll let you know what the decision is," he said.

If Congress decides to reimpose economic sanctions — despite opposition from fellow deal signatories Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — the agreement would likely collapse.

Under the nuclear deal, Iran surrendered much of its enriched uranium, dismantled a reactor and submitted nuclear sites to UN inspection, while Washington and Europe lifted some sanctions.

"By violating its international commitments, the new US administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it or accepting its word or promise," Rouhani said.

The president slammed the "ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric filled with ridiculously baseless allegations that was uttered before this august body yesterday."

Trump in his speech Tuesday called the nuclear deal "an embarrassment" for the United States. — AFP]]>
World Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:40:48 +0000 theSundaily 484683 at
Kyrgyzstan accuses Kazakhstan of election 'influence'
The complaint came after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with opposition candidate Omurbek Babanov, competing in the country's strongly contested October election.

In an angry note to Kazakhstan's ambassador, the Kyrgyz foreign ministry expressed "bewilderment" at the meeting, which it characterised as "an expression of support".

It said it regarded the meeting as an "attempt to influence the choice of the people of Kyrgyzstan and interference in the internal affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic".

Kazakhstan said Wednesday it was "extremely surprised at the reaction", adding that Nazarbayev regularly meets politicians from other countries.

The neighbouring nations were once both part of the Soviet Union but took different paths after independence.

Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev, 77, is the only incumbent president in the former Soviet bloc that assumed control over his country before the bloc's collapse and oil profits have helped entrench his authoritarian rule.

Resource-poor Kyrgyzstan is seen as the most democratic state in Central Asia, a predominantly authoritarian region, but it has also been the most politically volatile in recent times.

The Muslim-majority country experienced two revolutions that unseated presidents in 2005 and 2010 followed by ethnic violence that left over 400 people dead.

Next month's presidential election is likely to see the first peaceful transfer of power between two elected presidents but the build up to the vote has been beset by tensions.

Two opposition politicians that would otherwise have been on the 13-candidate ballot were sent to prison on corruption and kidnapping charges earlier this summer.

Former oil trader Babanov, widely viewed as the wealthiest candidate, will face competition from outgoing president Almazbek Atambayev's preferred choice, friend and ally Sooronbai Jeenbekov,

Jeenbekov and Babanov both served as prime ministers over the course of Atambayev's six-year term which he is constitutionally prohibited from extending.

Traditionally stable relations between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan became strained during Atambayev's time in office over trade disputes that occurred, despite both countries being members of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. — AFP]]>
World Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:40:48 +0000 theSundaily 484681 at
German court jails Syrian refugee over UN kidnapping
Twenty-six-year-old Suliman al-S. was arrested in January 2016, becoming the first asylum seeker in Germany to face charges over alleged war crimes committed in Syria.

The court in the southwestern city of Stuttgart found that while the suspect did not take part in the 2013 abduction of a Canadian UN observer, he aided and abetted the kidnappers by acting as a guard.

The peacekeeper with the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), who was stationed in the Golan Heights but abducted in Damascus, managed to free himself after eight months in captivity.

Prosecutors had sought a seven-year sentence for Suliman al-S., who arrived in Germany in 2014.

The judges said they had not seen conclusive proof that the suspect belonged to a branch of the Al-Nusra Front jihadist group, as alleged by the prosecution.

The peacekeeper's identity was never revealed by German prosecutors, but the UN said in 2013 that Carl Campeau, a Canadian legal advisor, was abducted on Feb 17 as he drove through a Damascus suburb.

He was freed in October, without a ransom being paid, according to the UN.

German federal prosecutors have opened over a dozen investigations concerning alleged war crimes in Syria or Iraq, alongside dozens of cases of suspected membership in jihadist groups.

The investigations have gained momentum with the arrival of more than one million asylum seekers since 2015, including hundreds of thousands from Syria and Iraq.

In July 2016, in the first such conviction, a German jihadist was sentenced to two years in prison on war crimes charges after posing for pictures in Syria with the severed and impaled heads of two government soldiers. — AFP]]>
World Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:37:46 +0000 theSundaily 484680 at
MMEA detains five fishermen in Malaysian waters
Miri Maritime director, Maritime Captain Md Fauzi Othman said the five Vietnamese fishermen, aged between 19 and 62, were picked up from their boat 20 nautical miles off Sungai Miri in an operation dubbed "Ops Permai" at 6.05pm yesterday.

"The fishermen failed to produce valid travel documents and had exceeded their sailing limit from Bintulu to Long Xuyen, Vietnam," he said in a statement.

Fauzi said also seized were 2,000kg of fish worth RM20,000 and 315 live sharks.

"The fishermen and the boats were taken to the Pulau Melayu vessel detention centre here for further action," he said. — Bernama]]>
Local Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:31:31 +0000 theSundaily 484679 at
Gender stereotypes are firmly rooted by age 10: Global study
The investigation, which spanned 15 countries, suggested that vast amounts of money are wasted on stereotype prevention programs for teenagers, because efforts must begin far earlier.

"Adolescent health risks are shaped by behaviours rooted in gender roles that can be well established in kids by the time they are ten or 11 years old," Kristin Mmari, lead researcher for the qualitative research at the Global Early Adolescent Study, a partnership between the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University.

"Yet we see billions of dollars around the world invested in adolescent health programs that don't kick in until they are 15, and by then it's probably too late to make a big difference."

The study included 450 early adolescents matched with a parent or guardian.

Interviews were conducted in Bolivia, Belgium, Burkina Faso, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Scotland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam.

Researchers found that gender stereotypes which emphasize female passivity can encourage abuse.

These stereotypes "leave girls at greater risk of dropping out of school or suffering physical and sexual violence, child marriage, early pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections," said the report.

Boys on the other hand are encouraged to spend time outside of the home, unsupervised, to explore the world.

When it came to relationships, boys were consistently viewed as being the ones allowed to take the first step except in one city — Edinburgh, Scotland.

Meanwhile, girls across the world are taught that their bodies are their key asset.

"In New Delhi, the girls talked about their bodies as a big risk that needs to be covered up, while in Baltimore girls told us their primary asset was their bodies and that they need to look appealing — but not too appealing," Mmari said.

Boys, too suffer from stereotypes that emphasize physical strength and independence, which can make them more susceptible to violence, substance abuse, and homicide.

While there is increasing acceptance for girls who want to dress or act like boys — particularly in Belgium, China, India and the United States — there is "almost zero tolerance for boys" who push back against typical gender roles, said the report.

"Boys who challenge gender norms by their dress or behaviour were by many respondents seen as socially inferior," and were often bullied, teased and beaten, it said.

"We found children at a very early age — from the most conservative to the most liberal societies — quickly internalize this myth that girls are vulnerable and boys are strong and independent," said Robert Blum, director of the Global Early Adolescent Study.

"And this message is being constantly reinforced at almost every turn, by siblings, classmates, teachers, parents, guardians, relatives, clergy and coaches." — AFP]]>
World Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:02:52 +0000 theSundaily 484677 at
Russia agrees to accept court ruling on Beslan compensation
In April the ECHR found "serious failings" in Russia's response to the 2004 school siege in which 330 people died, 186 of them children.

It ordered Russia to pay a total of €3 million (RM15.07 million) in compensation to 409 surviving hostages and relatives of the deceased.

At the time, the Kremlin reacted furiously, saying the judgement was "absolutely unacceptable" and challenging it in a higher chamber, arguing that several of the court's conclusions were "not backed up".

But earlier this week, the court rejected the challenge, effectively finalising the ruling — which Moscow on Wednesday agreed to accept.

In a statement, the justice ministry said the court's decision was now "deemed to have come into force", noting that it would not raise any further challenge.

Not done enough

In its earlier ruling, the court said the Russian authorities had not done enough to prevent the siege despite having "sufficiently specific information" about the attackers' plans.

And it said the use of "lethal force by the security forces" had contributed to casualties among hostages.

In response, Russia argued that the circumstances of the siege "needed a more in-depth and balanced examination", saying the ECHR ruling could "create problems for preventing acts of terror".

Chechen militants demanding that Moscow withdraw troops from Chechnya attacked the school on September 1, 2004, holding 1,100 people, including 800 children, in a school gym rigged with explosives.

After three days of negotiations, explosions inside the building prompted security forces to storm the school.

The lawyer for the hostages and their relatives, Mikhail Trepashkin, on Tuesday said his clients were not pleased with the ECHR decision because it outlined "inadequate" compensation.

The Beslan massacre was one of a string of brutal attacks Russia suffered in the 1990s and 2000s stemming mainly from an insurgency in Chechnya that morphed from a separatist rebellion into an Islamist campaign.

There were two separatist wars in Chechnya in the 1990s and 2000s, but violence in the region has largely been suppressed under the iron-fisted rule of strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov. — AFP]]>
World Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:02:52 +0000 theSundaily 484676 at
Netanyahu rejects court call to implement Western Wall mixed prayer
A justice ministry statement issued Tuesday said the state attorney's office had informed the court that Netanyahu was sticking to his decision to freeze the January 2016 agreement, arguing it was non-binding and subject to government policy needs.

Netanyahu's right-wing government had agreed after a long campaign by reform Jewish groups to allow mixed worship at a section of east Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray.

But under pressure from ultra-Orthodox political parties, whose support is vital for the government's slender parliamentary majority, Netanyahu in June froze implementation of the scheme indefinitely.

The freeze angered the influential American Jewish community, the majority of whom follow more liberal strands of Judaism.

Israeli NGOs filed suit with the supreme court asking that it compel the government to honour the agreement and last month the court asked the government to reconsider the freeze.

"If the answer is in the negative," the court wrote at the time, the state should address the question "if the possibility exists in law to compel the government to implement the agreement."

The government's written response said "no" on both points.

It said Netanyahu "considered all the circumstances of the matter and decided not to bring the issue of the Western Wall to further discussion before the cabinet", the justice ministry statement said.

It added that the government also said the court could not force it to act.

"The issue is absolutely one of policy, the complexity and sensitivity of which does not need to be enlarged upon," it quoted the state attorney's office as writing.

"The government, by the nature of things, has broad discretion in the manner of resolving this issue," the government response added, asking the judges to throw out the lawsuit.

"In these circumstances," it went on, "there was no flaw in the decision of the government of Israel to order the suspension."

The Jerusalem Post daily said on Wednesday that the court was expected to rule by January.

In accordance with strict ultra-Orthodox tradition, there are currently separate prayer sections for women and men at the wall, one of the last remnants of the Second Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 AD.

Women are also barred from leading prayers or bringing in Torah scrolls, and activists have for years been campaigning for equal prayer rights.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews represent about 10% of the Israeli population. — AFP]]>
World Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:59:27 +0000 theSundaily 484674 at
Overwatch eSports league to debut in December
The computer game giant also announced three additional franchises in its freshly formed league, bringing the total to 12.

The first of a series of exhibition matches was slated for Dec 6 at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, a custom-renovated live-event venue.

The inaugural season for the Overwatch league will official begin on Jan 10 of next year, with all matches held at Blizzard Arena, according to Activision.

"This is a huge milestone for the league," said Blizzard Entertainment chief executive Mike Morhaime.

This league is focused on competitive play of Activision's team-based shooter game Overwatch, and a goal of building professional stars — possibly with big-league payouts.

Teams will share revenue generated by the latest entry in the hot trend of computer gameplay as spectator sport.

Teams have been bought in major US cities as well as in London, Shanghai and Seoul for what is being touted as the first eSports league to put an Internet-age spin on cultivating local teams the way it is typically done in traditional sports.

"We made it our goal to have a presence in the cities where the densest concentrations of Overwatch players live," said Pete Vlastelica, head of Major League Gaming, an eSports events company bought by Activision about two years ago.

Buyers of team rights in the Overwatch league include the NFL's New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and baseball's New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.

Although millions of people watch eSports online and at global tournaments, backers of Overwatch say this approach is likely to draw in new audiences which can develop loyalty to their local players and attend community competitions.

London, Houston franchises

Jack Etienne, founder and chief of Cloud9, expects that by the second season to have matches take place in London, where the well-known eSports organization has the Overwatch franchise.

"I have a massive metro population to draw on, to fill my stadium," Etienne told AFP.

"I am very bullish on being profitable out of the gate."

Etienne also saw the promise of live, local matches drawing a global audience as fans around the world tune in to streaming play online.

"I just can't wait to get this started," said Hector Rodriguez, owner and chief of OpTic Gaming, which bought an Overwatch franchise in the Texas city of Houston.

"We take a lot of pointers from traditional sports, but we try to re-invent as we go along."

Local teams devoted to hit Activision video game Overwatch could lead to some of the same treatment as traditional sports, with local matches held in real-world venues and trash-talk by fans wearing garb emblazoned with team logos.

Activision did not disclose the price of the franchises, but a source close to the matter confirmed reports that each cost about US$20 million (RM83.75 million).

It is certainly a money-spinning industry, with global revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars and growing, according to industry trackers.

Overwatch boasts more than 30 million players around the world, and hundreds of millions of people watch eSports. — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:53:54 +0000 theSundaily 484672 at