Lifestyle Lifestyle en Smartphones are the new hotel room keys
Soon you'll be able to use your smartphone to open your hotel room door. Louvre Hotels sees its "HotelForYou" app as the key of the future. All you have to do is download the free app (from the AppStore or Google Store) to be able to enter your hotel room. The app also enables you to by-pass the hotel reception for check-in and check-out.

"Digitalization allows us to concentrate on our core business of hospitality. As a hotel business, we have to re-think the customer's entire value chain. This app will prevent check-in and check-out areas from getting too busy. And employees will be able to spend more time welcoming guests and making their stay even more pleasant," said Pierre-Frédéric Roulot, CEO of Louvre Hotels Group.

The app was tested in two hotels in the Golden Tulip and Première Classe chains. It will be rolled out to around 30 of the group's hotels. Eventually, anyone who stays at a Louvre Hotels Group hotel will be able to use their smartphone to access their room. — Relaxnews]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 28 Jun 2017 19:50:42 +0000 theSundaily 456820 at
Tiny bay makes waves in Slovenia-Croatia border row
Nestled on a craggy peninsula, the southwestern town of Piran is the pearl of Slovenia's tiny coastline, with medieval buildings tumbling down to a port where boats gently bob on the turquoise Adriatic Sea.

But there's a snag to the postcard-perfect scene. The tranquil bay is also shared by Croatia, and has poisoned relations between the neighbours since they both declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and began fighting over the 670-kilometre (415-mile) border separating them.

Ljubljana insists it has a historic claim to the entire bay while Zagreb says it owns half of it.

On Thursday, an arbitration tribunal set up in 2009 in The Hague is due to issue its ruling on the battle over 13 square kilometres comprising the bay as well as largely uninhabited land.

Slovenia, which has just 46 kilometres of shoreline, believes its access to international waters will be at stake if the court finds in favour of Croatia, where the coast stretches 1,700 kilometres.

"[The verdict] is about Slovenia having official sovereign access to international waters," said Slovenian expert Verica Trstenjak, a law professor at the University of Vienna.

"It's a very emotional debate for the country which only has a tiny coastline."

French analyst Joseph Krulic, who specialises in ex-Yugoslavian countries, told AFP the court could opt for "a compromise granting Slovenia a narrow corridor with sovereign access to international waters".

Either way the decision will be largely "symbolic", he added, because Slovenia is already guaranteed access to international waters under international law even if it doesn't hold sovereignty over the bay.

'Headed for ruin'

Whatever the outcome, Croatia has made clear it will ignore the ruling.

The country – which only agreed to join the proceedings after Ljubljana lifted its veto in 2009 to Croatia's accession to the European Union – pulled out again two years ago following a phone tapping scandal.

A Slovenian judge from the tribunal and a Ljubljana official were recorded discussing tactics for a ruling favourable to Slovenia.

The pair resigned but Zagreb said it had lost trust in the court's impartiality.

"Croatia is neither going to accept nor reject the arbitration's ruling for one very simple reason: the tribunal doesn't exist," Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic recently told the Dnevnik newspaper.

An invisible frontier cutting the bay in half already exists, with coast patrols on both sides regularly stopping boats venturing beyond their country's perceived maritime border.

Slovenian fisherman Zdravko Novogradec said a victory for Slovenia would expand his small fishing area but he holds little hope for a positive outcome.

"It will change nothing because the Croats reject the deal," he told AFP while tying his boat to a dock at the pier in Piran.

Pointing to his meagre day's catch, Novogradec lamented that "this will barely bring me 100 euros (RM488)".

"We're headed for ruin," he said.

Some ten kilometres south of Piran in Umag, on the Croatian side of the bay, fisherman Daniele Kolec defiantly told AFP that "there will be no ceding" on Croatia's behalf.

Risk of escalation

While the story barely made waves in Croatia, it has dominated Slovenian headlines for weeks. The government hopes for a favourable outcome for Ljubljana, which Croatia will eventually have to accept.

But Slovenian media have struck a pessimistic tone.

"There is no mutual trust (between Slovenia and Croatia) and the implementation of the arbitration deal is not plausible. The situation seems, once again, hopeless," columnist Sasa Vidmajer wrote in the Delo newspaper.

Observers meanwhile warned that Zagreb's non-compliance with the ruling could further strain already tense relations with Slovenia, which is Croatia's key entry point into the passport-free Schengen zone.

At worst it could land Croatia in the International Court of Justice, according to some commentators.

"By not accepting the arbitration ruling Croatia will find itself in a completely new position," the Croatian Novi list newspaper commented last week.

"Slovenia will accuse it as a violator of the international law, putting hurdles (for Zagreb) wherever it can, while Croatia will be pressed from Slovenian allies in Europe and world." — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 28 Jun 2017 07:59:34 +0000 theSundaily 456694 at
Medical marijuana woos four-legged fans
The black labrador, tail wagging, laps up the liquid tincture owner Brett Hartmann squirts into her mouth, a remedy he uses morning and evening to help alleviate Cayley's anxiety.

"Ever since I started her on CBD (cannabidiol – a marijuana extract), her separation anxiety has disappeared," says Hartmann, 30, of his pet, a service dog he acquired while in college because he had epilepsy.

Hartmann, who lives near Los Angeles, said he turned to medical marijuana for Cayley after he no longer needed her to accompany him everywhere, having himself overcome his epilepsy with the help of the drug.

"I just allowed her to retire and... I don't think she handled the transition too well," Hartmann, who also has his ageing dachshund on cannabis, said. "But CBD has really helped."

With the multi-billion dollar medical and recreational marijuana industry for humans blossoming in the United States, so is a new customer base – animals.

"We are seeing about 20% growth every single month," said Alison Ettel, founder of Treat Well, a company in California that specialises in non-psychoactive medical cannabis products for animals and humans.

Treating thousands of animals

She said owners of animals – from dogs, cats, lizards, turtles, alpacas, horses to farm animals – are increasingly turning to cannabis to help treat ailments ranging from cancer and heart murmurs to arthritis and ear infections.

And the feedback, Ettel says, is more than encouraging.

"We probably get at least one to five cancer patients a day and the results we're seeing are just blowing my mind," she said, claiming the drug can help improve life expectancy.

When she started in the business about a decade ago, Ettel said she would treat about 20 animals a year, mostly dogs.

Today, with medical marijuana legalised in 29 states – plus the District of Columbia – the number of four-legged patients has skyrocketed.

"Now we are treating thousands of animals," she said.

But despite the rush to cash in on the booming industry, cannabis remains illegal on the federal level and marijuana laws on the state level don't apply to pets.

That has translated into pet owners having to get a marijuana card for themselves in order to purchase cannabis for their pups, as veterinarians are barred from prescribing marijuana.

The legal grey area and the lack of substantial studies on the effect of cannabis for pets also means that owners and dispensaries have had to tread carefully on dosages.

"We start very very low and very very slow to try and find the appropriate dose," said Melinda Hayes, founder of Sweet Leaf Shoppe, a medical cannabis delivery service.

"The last thing you want to do is for your dog or pet to be uncomfortable."

Does it really work?

Proponents say the advantage of cannabis for ailing pets as opposed to painkillers or other traditional drugs is that when properly used, it has no known serious side effects.

"Other medicines can take a toll on an animal's kidney, liver and other organs," Hayes said.

Another advantage, she added, was the lower cost of medical cannabis compared to some medication.

Veterinarians are cautioning against viewing cannabis as a miracle drug.

"There are no studies on dogs or cats, much less guinea pigs or other species, so I don't know what the potential benefits could be, if any," said Ken Pawlowski, a veterinarian and head of the California Veterinary Medical Association.

While a pet may feel better after ingesting medical marijuana, he warned that did not mean its illness was gone.

"Is the underlying disease actually being treated or is it getting worse?" Pawlowski said. "The dog can feel better because it's high and actual known therapy that could help could be overlooked."

But pet owners like Hartmann are undeterred while acknowledging that people need to be better educated on how to use the drug.

"We have so many success stories," said Hartmann, who works as a cannabis consultant. "For the longest time, I was anti-cannabis and was not a proponent of it until I started using it for my epilepsy. It helped me restore my body and it totally makes sense to use it for my dogs."

"I have people who roll their eyes all the time and I say 'You're just going to have to see it to believe it.'" — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Lifestyle Sun, 25 Jun 2017 04:01:26 +0000 theSundaily 455909 at
Rich People Problems
Shang Su Yi, matriach of the Young family, is on her ­deathbed.

Her relatives are rushing to her side, ­planning lots of backstabbing and ­manipulation, in order to lay their hands on Tyersall Park, a vast estate Shang owns. Nick Young (the main protagonist of Crazy Rich Asians) is initially prevented from seeing his grandmother by scheming cousin Eddie, who is hoping to inherit her estate himself.

However, grandmother and grandson eventually reconcile, and Nick makes a revelation that has a huge bearing on the fate of the estate.

Meanwhile, Nick's other cousin Astrid Leong (who appeared in the first two books), is now with her old flame Charlie.

But Astrid has to contend with her scheming ex-husband and Charlie's emotionally-unstable ex-wife.
Kwan weaves an interesting family saga with characters you can relate to.

Overall, it's an interesting read.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 21 Jun 2017 10:49:46 +0000 S. Indra Sathiabalan 455137 at
Wait For Me
When Paul, the new farmhand assigned to her father's farm, turns out to be one, Lorna is appalled. She can't imagine working alongside the enemy.

But time spent with Paul slowly allows her to see past his nationality, and his ruined face, to the person who gradually fills her every thought.

Lorna risks losing everything she values – her family, her friends and the life she has always known. But neither reason nor fear can stop their love.

Author Leech paints a vivid picture of life during the war, with the rationing and the fears as well as the sacrifices one has to make, as a backdrop for her love story.

And out of this hell comes a silver lining, in the form of love so sweet and innocent. it brings tears to the eyes.
Wait For Me is poignant and heart warming and a totally engaging read.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 21 Jun 2017 10:50:57 +0000 K.K. Wong 455139 at
Yoga connecting world, says Modi as millions celebrate
In the western city of Ahmedabad around 125,000 enthusiasts gathered at an open-air ground to try to set a new record Guinness World record.

The session was led by celebrity yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who twisted into poses on stage next to the president of the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah.

Yoga events are being held across more than 100 countries this week to mark the third International Yoga Day.

Modi held his masterclass in Lucknow, the capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state, where the BJP stormed to power in March.

"Many countries which do not know our language, tradition, or culture, are now connecting to India through yoga," Modi said in his address to a nearly 50,000-strong crowd.

"Yoga connects body, mind and soul. It is playing a big role in bringing the world together too," he said after performing various poses despite an early morning drizzle.

From China's Great Wall to the London Eye, yoga enthusiasts performed 'asanas', or poses, at major landmarks, hailing the ancient practice as a holistic way of life.

The United Nations headquarters lit up with images of poses, and across India, schoolchildren, soldiers, politicians and bureaucrats bent and twisted their bodies on colourful mats at mass outdoor sessions.

Television footage showed Indian soldiers performing yoga in their military overalls in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, situated at a height of 18,000 feet (5,500 metres). — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 21 Jun 2017 04:58:40 +0000 theSundaily 454989 at
Kazakh energy expo sapped by rows over costs, visitors
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Spain's King Felipe VI were among the dignitaries taking in the festive opening on June 9 of the Future Energy expo in the Central Asian country's futuristic new capital of Astana.

Dancers in golden bodysuits hoisted imitation solar panels skywards, spacemen swung on ropes between suspended models of the planets and Kazakh children sketched a "city of the future" on a giant screen to impress the VIPs.

But just over a week into the event, fresh controversy broke out as internet service providers in the country appeared to block the Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine following a critical article claiming weak visitor numbers, while authorities engaged in an unseemly spat with the author.

Graft scandals and an economic crisis cast long shadows over ex-Soviet Kazakhstan's decision to hold the event in the showpiece city of Astana, which is costly to reach from most European and Asian capitals.

Officials have continued to trumpet it as a branding coup, however.

"People call Astana a city of the future. Well, this (expo) area will become like a city of the future within the city of the future," Astana's Mayor Asset Issekeshev told AFP in an interview in his office.

"The area where the expo is now will host a museum and centres of technical and financial excellence. These centres can be put to use by the city, the country, and hopefully the whole region," he added.

Glass half empty?

When an AFP correspondent visited the expo territory on the outskirts of Astana on its June 10 opening to the public, the event appeared well-attended with large queues coming out of major pavilions.

But reporters who visited the following day, including an AFP photographer, reported a clear drop in numbers despite Kazakh authorities claiming Monday that more than 86,000 people have already visited the expo's main pavilion.

James Palmer, Asia editor for Washington-based Foreign Policy claimed in his article entitled "Kazakhstan Spent US$5 Billion (RM21 billion) on a Death Star and It Doesn't Even Shoot Lasers" that many pavilions at the expo "were barren of anyone except staff" during his recent visit.

The PR-sensitive country's information minister, who denied ordering a block on the Foreign Policy website, said Palmer was guilty of "untruths and misinterpreting facts".

Palmer was even forced to respond to a claim by organisers that he had not visited Kazakhstan by tweeting photographs of his passport showing entry and exit stamps as well as a ticket stub from the event.

The government says the expo cost Kazakhstan 400 billion tenge, $1.3 billion at present rates but close to double that figure prior to the battering received by the national currency following the collapse of global energy prices in 2014.

Criticism of spending on the expo only grew after chief organiser Talgat Ermegiyayev, a former sports minister, was arrested in 2015 and jailed for 14 years in 2016 for embezzling some 5.9 billion tenge from the event's budget.

Future energy focus

Some 115 countries including China, Russia and the United States are participating in the event which runs into September.

While some of the pavilions wowed visitors, many had a more token feel.

Kazakhstan's neighbour Russia used its pavilion to promote its new generation of nuclear-powered ice-breakers, for instance.

"No other country in the world has a fleet like this," boasted Maria Nikolayeva, a guide, standing by a water tank representing the Arctic Sea patrolled by model versions of the boats.

Costa Rica's display, surrounded by other similarly threadbare Latin American pavilions, consisted simply of a video highlighting the country's natural habitat and renewable energy use.

"It is important for us to be here and show people what we are about," said Arturo Fournier-Facio, the country's ambassador to Russia who had travelled down for the occasion.

World's fairs and specialised expos like the one in Astana originated in the 19th century industrial era to showcase mankind's achievements. Legacies of the events include major tourist attractions such as the Eiffel tower in Paris and the Space Needle in Seattle, but in recent times the events have taken on a more corporate vibe.

"If this expo brings us closer to using clean energy and recycling, then great, but really, we shouldn't need an expo to do those things," said Aidos Sarym, a political scientist based in Almaty, Kazakhstan's second largest city and its capital up to 1997.

"I think, given the social and economic problems we have, there were other things to spend this money on."

"Hopefully this experience (hosting the expo) will act as a kind of inoculation and in the future we will not need to host such grand events," he told AFP. — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 21 Jun 2017 04:46:52 +0000 theSundaily 454981 at
New stadium build unearths 1,200-year-old cemetery in Nicaragua
The pre-Colombian burial site includes ceramic funeral urns and some human remains like craniums and jawbones, state television reported.

Part of the artifacts found were "a cemetery arrangement from about 800 to 350 years B.C", said Ivonne Miranda, the director of archaeology at the Nicaraguan Culture Ministry.

"It gives us a better idea how pre-Hispanic society functioned" in the modern-day Managua area, Miranda said.

The items recovered will go on display at the National Culture Museum, she said. — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 21 Jun 2017 03:18:40 +0000 theSundaily 454932 at
NASA discovers 10 new Earth-size exoplanets
The Kepler mission team released a survey of 219 potential exoplanets – planets outside of our solar system – that had been detected by the space observatory launched in 2009 to scan the Milky Way galaxy.

Ten of the new discoveries were orbiting their suns at a distance similar to Earth's orbit around the sun, the so-called habitable zone that could potentially have liquid water and sustain life.

Kepler has already discovered 4,034 potential exoplanets, 2,335 of which have been confirmed by other telescopes as actual planets.

The 10 new Earth-size planets bring the total to 50 that exist in habitable zones around the galaxy.

"This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy's most compelling questions – how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?" said Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist and lead author of the latest study.

The latest findings were released at the Fourth Kepler and K2 science conference being held this week at NASA's Ames research center in California.

The Kepler telescope detects the presence of planets by registering minuscule drops in a star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it, a movement known as a transit.

The findings were compiled from data gathered during the first four years of the mission, which scientists processed to determine the size and composition of the planets observed.

The scientists found that the newly discovered planets tended to fall into two distinct categories – smaller, rocky planets that are usually around 75 percent bigger than Earth, and much larger, gaseous planets similar in size to Neptune.

NASA said the latest catalog is the most complete and detailed survey of potential exoplanets yet compiled. The telescope has studied some 150,000 stars in the Cygnus constellation, a survey which NASA said is now complete.

"The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near Earth-analogs – planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth," said Mario Perez of NASA's Astrophysics Division. "Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future NASA missions to directly image another Earth".

The mission ran into technical problems in 2013 when mechanisms used to turn the spacecraft failed, but the telescope has continued searching for potentially habitable planets as part of its K2 project.

As of next year, NASA will continue its scan of the galaxy using Kepler's successor, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, which will spend two years observing the 200,000 brightest nearby stars for Earth-like worlds.

Scientists also hope the James Webb Space telescope, which will replace the Hubble telescope in 2018, will be able to detect the molecular make-up of atmospheres of exoplanets, including the possibility of finding signatures of potential life forms. — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Tue, 20 Jun 2017 01:44:20 +0000 theSundaily 454495 at
Watches born of tradition
All fitted with self-winding movements, the various models in this collection offer various sophistications. The Longines Master Collection brings together the classical elegance and excellent quality which never cease to delight those who appreciate exceptional timepieces.

In 2005, Longines launched the line that would become its best-selling product: the Longines Master Collection. Right from the start, this range has enjoyed a level of success that has never waned, making it an emblem of the brand's watchmaking know-how.

Over the years, new sizes and sophistications have been added, while the timeless classicism which is the brand's essential characteristic and which has played a major role in its success worldwide has always been maintained.

In addition to the traditional models with three hands, the Longines Master Collection offers a wide range of sophistications. Businessman one day, sportsman the next and at times a jet-setter, today's man is many-sided and always on the move. And his range of requirements can all be satisfied by the choice of displays offered by the models in the Longines Master Collection: chronograph functions, indication of time in all 24 time-zones worldwide, power-reserve indicator, phases of the moon or retrograde functions.

The sophisticated models in the Longines Master Collection are available in various diameter sizes (38.5mm, 40mm, 41mm, 42mm, 44mm) in order to provide the ideal watch to suit every wrist. All models are fitted with self-winding movements. The cases are available in steel, steel and yellow gold or 18 carat rose gold.

The black or silver dials are decorated with a barley-corn design which enhances the rhodium-plated or blued steel hands. Water-resistant to 3 bar, these models also have a transparent case back through which the proud owner can admire the fascinating working of the movement. Each timepiece is mounted on a steel and yellow gold or a steel bracelet, or on a black or dark brown alligator strap, all having a folding safety clasp.]]>
Lifestyle Mon, 19 Jun 2017 03:02:25 +0000 theSundaily 454230 at