Ammon News, Panorama

Iraqi man, 61, accomplishes what his government couldn’t

[8/15/2018 5:38:45 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Hakim al-Umaydi, a 61-year-old Iraqi man, has accomplished what the local government in Babel, south of Baghdad, has not been able to do by repairing holes in streets. Umaydi has been doing this voluntary work for two years. A father of six, Umaydi makes a living by driving a transportation car which he also uses to carry the tools for his voluntary work of repairing holes. He got the idea after witnessing an unfortunate incident due to a deep hole in one of the city’s main streets. Tar and sand are the two most important material used to repair holes. Serving the people in his governorate was the goal which pushed him to volunteer and repair holes. Merchants who sell tar and sand have helped him by providing the material for free. Umaydi said voluntary work represents each individual’s national identity, whether he’s young or old, but due to unemployment and unstable economic and livelihood conditions, it may be difficult for one to volunteer hence endeavoring in such efforts has become less and less. He also called on the federal government to provide the basic services and called on youths to work on resolving problems by relying on themselves. Umaydi, however, has joint and spine pain and he needs to travel outside the country for treatment but after losing his passport due to moving out frequently, he couldn’t. Although he paid all the fines, the passports’ department has not yet issued him a new passport. His sons have appealed through Al the facilitation of the issuance of their father’s passport so he can be treated outside Iraq. People in the city respect and appreciate Umaydi and hope that one day he will be an official in their city. *Al Arabiya

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KitKat standing to be in danger due to lack of originality

[8/15/2018 5:36:50 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Trademarks produce chocolate packaging in a specific shape to help consumers easily differentiate between each brand. This is labeled as “sufficiently distinctive.” Some companies are unable to change their current brand shape because it may lead to financial damage. A bigger issue is when competitors try to imitate the shape of a successful brand. This matter has led to several court cases. In the chocolate industry, the ongoing disagreement regarding shapes is complex. KitKat is one of the biggest chocolate companies that is struggling against competitors. According to FastCompany, distinguishing KitKat from other chocolate brands is hard because it does not have a unique shape. KitKat began using the shape in 1935, and Kvikk Lunsj, another chocolate brand, started using the same shape two years later because the chocolate brand did not have an outer original look. After the UK court in 2015, Cadbury justified that the only reason KitKat is shaped the way it is, is for consumers to easily break each finger apart. In 2002, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), approved of KitKat’s shape since it was able to gain recognition among 10 of the 15 EU countries. However, the chocolate’s current position is in danger which may cause it to exit EU trademarks. *Al Arabiya

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A sticky problem: Boom in taste for octopus squeezes market

[8/13/2018 4:36:41 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Whether it’s spiced in the Spanish style or sliced as Japanese sashimi, octopus as a dish is becoming a victim of its own popularity. Prices for the tentacled mollusk have about doubled in the past two years due to a global boom in appetite for these classic dishes. And supplies have tightened, with fisheries not yet able to farm octopus and relying on ocean currents to yield a good harvest. This year has been hard, with lower catches in major producing countries like Morocco and Spain. “The price will rise even more,” says Carmen Torres Lorenzo, who has been selling fish for three decades in the market of Bueu in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia, famed for its octopus dish. “I wish a lot of octopus would appear ... and the price will come down, but that won’t happen.” The price of a regular size, locally caught octopus has risen from about seven euros to 14 euros per kilogram (from $8 to $16 for 2.2 pounds) in the last two years. The price is typically somewhat higher in other countries, like the US, that do not specialize in its fishing. The Food and Agriculture Organization says prices are expected to continue to grow as demand has risen in all major markets, including Japan, the United States, China and Europe. Meanwhile, catches have been limited, even in the biggest producing countries, Morocco, Mauritania and Mexico. Some scientists in Japan and Spain are working on techniques to farm octopus, but they are not ready yet for commercial purposes. Octopus eggs are laid on the ocean floor, where they are fertilized and transported by currents, a condition that is hard to reproduce in a controlled environment. “There is a lot of demand for this product, and what we can offer is little, so the price skyrockets,” said says Jose Manuel Rosas, president of Bueu’s fishermen guild. Increasing the fishing quotas is not an option, says Rosas. “This would kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. We have to pamper it, we have to take care of it. (Galician octopus) production is what it is.” *AP

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200-million-year-old pterosaur species ‘built for flying’ discovered

[8/13/2018 4:34:35 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Scientists on Monday unveiled a previously unknown species of giant pterosaur, the first creatures with a backbone to fly under their own power. Neither dino nor bird, pterosaurs -- more commonly known as pterodactyls -- emerged during the late Triassic period more than 200 million years ago and lorded over primeval skies until a massive space rock slammed into Earth, wiping out land-dwelling dinosaurs and most other forms of life more than 65 million years ago. The newly discovered member of the family, identified through remains found in northeastern Utah, had a wing-span of 1.5 meters (five feet) and 112 teeth, including fang-like spikes sticking out near the snout. A jutting lower jaw suggests a pelican-like pouch, perhaps to scoop up fish and unsuspecting small reptiles. “They are delicately framed animals that are built for flying,” said Brooks Britt, a paleontologist at Brigham Young University in Utah and lead author of a study in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Caelestiventus hanseni -- roughly, “heavenly wind” -- is probably the most complete skeletal remains of a pterosaurs ever found. “Most pterosaurs bones look like road-kill,” Britt told AFP, noting that there are only 30-odd specimens in the entire world from the Triassic period. By contrast, the new specimen left behind dozens of intact bones and teeth, along with an entire brain casing. The remains are still encased in sandstone, but scientists generated accurate 3-D images and models of each fossil using CAT scan technology. The site where C. hanseni was unearthed, known to fossil hunters as Saints & Sinners, reveals a dramatic story of survival and local extinction in the face of climate change, the researchers said. The rocks it was found in were part of an oasis in a two-million square kilometer (775,000 square mile) desert covered with giant sand dunes. “During droughts, large numbers of animals -- including pterosaurs, predatory dinosaurs and crocodylomorphs -- were drawn to the pond in the middle of the oasis, where they died as water dried up,” said Britt. The result was a treasure trove of more than 18,000 bones from dozens of water-starved animals. C. hanseni is not the biggest pterosaur ever found, but was likely the largest of its era, especially for a desert environment. It also predates other desert-dwelling specimens by about 65 million years. The other pterosaurs from the same period found so far came from coastal areas in what is now Europe and Greenland. That the high-flying creatures were spread across much of the globe may have helped them survive -- some 201 million years ago -- the end-of-Triassic mass extinction, which wiped out half of the species on land and in the sea. *AFP

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‘Robot waiters’ serving food, obliging with selfies, in India

[8/11/2018 6:35:03 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Restaurants around the globe are embracing technology in a big way to cater to the demands of its new generation customers. The trend has reached India, too, where tech-savvy restaurants all over the country are trying to excel in delivering “unique and innovative” theme-based dining experiences and entertainment. The rage for robot restaurants seen in countries like Singapore, Japan, China, Bangladesh and some western countries has prompted a team of youngsters in India’s Tamil Nadu to get into this enterprise. Blending the latest technology with cuisine was witnessed in Tamil Nadu with two “robot restaurants” being launched, eight months apart, first in Chennai and later in Coimbatore recently. In April last year, BoB – an Indian-designed robot prototype, was set up by VR Mall and demonstrated in many Bangalore restaurants as a precedent to explore the use of robots in food-serving techniques. The “robot-restaurant” opened in Chennai in mid-November last year claims to be the first-of-its-kind in India. The restaurant earlier called MOMO was re-launched by co-owners Venkatesh Rajendran and Karthik Kannan in a robotic theme to deliver “novel and entertaining” experiences to their customers. “I wanted to set up a restaurant different from others. So, I came up with an innovative concept of robots as waiters. This robot-themed restaurant in Chennai utilizes four ‘robot waiters’ to serve 70 seated patrons,” Venkatesh Rajendra told Al Arabiya English. Following the success of their pioneering venture, another franchise robot restaurant was opened in the textiles city of Coimbatore in July this year catering to 140 people and using 8 ‘robot waiters’. All these robots are, however, imported from China and Japan where Venkatesh Rajendran also underwent robotic technical training to learn their operation, repair and programming. Venkatesh calls the response to these restaurants “very enthusiastic”. “The one in Chennai caters to Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisine while the Coimbatore one caters to multi-cuisine palate. There is a plan to open another franchise outlet in Bangalore in the coming months,” he said. These “robots” are battery-operated and can be controlled by sensors. Each robot waiter is programmed to carry the food-trays from the kitchen to the designated customer table and to return the dirty dishes back to the kitchen. These “robot waiters and waitresses” are elegantly attired and move on predetermined paths across the eateries; halting whenever obstacles are encountered. Their eye sensors reflect annoyance when unnecessarily obstructed and they voice their request to keep their paths clear. These robots understand English and Tamil and are programmed to cheerfully greet the patrons at their tables. Both the restaurants have an exotic dim-lit ambience with neon robotic figures painted on the walls all around the restaurants; complimenting their robotic-theme prominently. Each table, allotted to a customer at these two restaurants has a phone tablet displaying the menu on which the customers can place their orders which are linked to the kitchen. The chefs in the kitchen prepare the orders and place them on the tray-laden humanoid waiters who take them to their respective tables. Although the actual serving of the food at these tables and later their cleaning-up is done by human waiters, the customers are all excited and enraptured by their close encounters with the “robot waiters”. The human waiters hovering near the tables also explain the varied menu in detail as per customer request. The “selfie corners” in both the restaurants are a major attraction and people from all age groups hover around here to capture their “selfie moments” with these unique waiters. The robot restaurants in Chennai and Coimbatore have become popular hangout places especially for birthdays and other celebrations of both the young and old. Frequently on the move but Coimbatore-based Z. Mohammed Nassar, co-founder and Director of E2E – Excite Marketing and Training Services, summed up his experience: “Technology is making eating out increasingly efficient and more entertaining. It is fun to experience having served by robots.” With delicious food and reasonably priced menu coupled with the novel androids; these restaurants are running full houses and getting raving reviews. Prior reservations at these restaurants are strongly recommended to ensure seating and minimize the waiting period. The resounding success of these restaurants could very well result in interactive robots and humanoids becoming a common sight at the food joints across India. *Al Arabiya

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After Elissa, fans of Myriam Fares shocked at ‘cancer’ rumors

[8/11/2018 6:33:04 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Lebanese singer Myriam Fares denied on Friday media gossip about her having cancer , saying that she was suffering from some other disease. After the shock caused by the news about Lebanese singer Elissa having breast cancer, concerned fans of Myriam Fares quickly jumped to conclusions following a tweet by Emirati singer Ahlam. Ahlam tweeted: “I pray for your wellness”, and addressed her followers saying: “Pray for Myriam Fares, for she is suffering from a sickness.” Myriam on her part did not disclose any information about the kind of sickness she is suffering from, but she did tweet saying that she has always preferred keeping her personal life away from the media, but “was forced to talk about it after seeing her fans’ concern.” “I’ll need some time to heal and come back strong as you know me. Not every disaster is called cancer. I don’t have cancer. Stop commercializing people’s health,” said Myriam. *Al Arabiya

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‘Charmed’ reboot cast, producers defend TV show’s changes

[8/7/2018 5:05:45 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The cast and producers of CW’s new “Charmed” are defending the reboot as a story for its time. The drama series about three young half-sisters who are witches will confront modern issues including the MeToo movement, executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman told a TV critics’ meeting Monday. The varied ethnicity of the sisterly trio - white, Latina and African-American - also gives the reboot more currency, Urman said. The women have the same mother but different fathers. Most people she’s talked to are in favor of the switch to characters of color, said Urman. She also produces CW’s Latino family comedy “Jane The Virgin,” which will end after its upcoming fifth season. “We’ve had the chance to see three white witches. And obviously coming off ‘Jane,’ I know so much more about what it means to be on screen, to see yourself represented, to see yourself being the hero of the story,” Urman said. The varied backgrounds of the witches played by Sarah Jeffrey, Melonie Diaz and Madeleine Mantock also allows the show to explore witchcraft as it exists in different cultures, she said. Urman acknowledged there’s been fan unhappiness with the fact “Charmed” is a reboot and not a revival of the original series. The drama debuted in 1998 with Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty as the three Halliwell witch-sisters. Rose McGowan joined the series in 2006. Combs has expressed annoyance as well, posting tweets in which she derides the series remake as “capitalizing on our hard work.” “Charmed belongs to the 4 of us, our vast amount of writers, crews and predominantly the fans,” she wrote on Twitter last January. “FYI you will not fool them by owning” a title. Those involved with the reboot understand that “Charmed” is a “sacred thing” to the original cast and its fans, Jeffrey said. “Of course, we can’t help but be a little disappointed because I think the script is fantastic,” Mantock said. She added that she hopes Combs watches the show and likes it, but understands she is protective of the drama and “entitled to feel however she wants.” At its core, the show is a love story of the three sisters, Urman said, making it true to the original despite changes. *AP

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