Monday, December 11, 2017

THREATS FROM NORTH KOREA: South Korea slaps further unilateral sanctions on North Korea



The South Korean government announced a new set of unilateral sanctions on North Korea effective today - some two weeks after the North's ballistic missile launch.

Seoul's foreign ministry says the measures will clamp down on 20 North Korean firms and twelve new individuals, in the hope of banning the inflow of illegal funds into the North. But the upgraded sanctions are nothing new, as Seoul confirmed that the additional firms and individuals were taken from existing U.S. sanctions, with no "new targets identified."

The latest package of sanctions is the second of its kind under the Moon Jae-in administration since it rolled out unilateral sanctions in November when it put 18 individuals on its blacklist.

Source: Arirang News

Let's Do The News! (December 11, 2017)



- President Rodrigo Duterte said that the ongoing threats of terrorists inspired by the Islamic State militants as well as local terrorist groups and New People's Army is why his declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao needs to be extended by another year. The president noted that the surviving members of the ISIS-inspired Maute group and their allies have been recruiting members in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sulu and Basilan.

- Former Health Secretary Janette Garin insisted that the decision on the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia based on "data available at the time." The former Health chief noted that the purchase of Dengvaxia was not hastily implemented. She added that the decision to procure Dengvaxia was not a personal decision, but an “institutional decision.” Right now, the Senate and Congress has reopened the investigation on the Department of Health’s P3.5-billion dengue fever immunization program of the previous administration following reports of irregularities.

- As the Duterte administration ramps up the offense against firecrackers, a group of Filipino inventors came up with the safer way to celebrate the new year. The inventor and manufacturer of the electric firecracker said his company is preparing at least 500 units of his product this week.

- The leaders of France and Israel engaged in the war on words over US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. French President Emmanuel Macron condemned recent violence against Israelis. But he also expressed "disapproval" of Trump's decision, calling it "dangerous for peace." Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu who has called Trump's decision "historic," said Israel has maintained its capital in the city for 70 years and the Jewish connection to Jerusalem goes back 3,000 years.

- A powerful flare-up on the western edge of Southern California's largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday, as wind-fanned flames churned through old-growth brush in canyons and along hillsides toward coastal towns.

- Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Northern League, a right-wing party that opposes easier citizenship for foreigners, is seeking more support in Italy's upcoming election. He told the rally yesterday in Rome it would be "splendid" if he wins the national election to be held in early 2018.

ICYMI: The Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan are named hosting nations for the FIBA Basketball World Cup this 2023.

- Volvo's second-generation XC60 crossover is named Japan Car of the Year.

- McLaren unveiled the 720S-based tribute to the legendary Ayrton Senna, known as the McLaren Senna. The V8 Twin Turbo engine has been uprooted to 800PS of power and the car weighs 1,198, making it the most lightest road-going McLaren ever made. Only 500 units have been made, each costing 750,000 Pounds plus tax and you can't have one because it's already sold out.

2019 McLaren Senna

The official trailer of James Cameron's adaptation of the manga series, Alita: Battle Angel, has arrived.

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TTFN!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Forza Motorsport 7: Italian Lessons

A few moments ago, I get to try out the new Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, which is part of the Samsung QLED TV Car Pack of Forza Motorsport 7, and I was amazed that it has a lot to live up being the modern-day successor to the original Fiat 124 Spider from the distant past. Now, let's get to the interesting part about what if the 124 and the Roadster clash each other. Let's get this show on the road.





What better way to settle this showdown than taking it to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Hence the name, this is how America's top motoring magazines test the latest cars here. It was also the perfect venue for the Best Driver's Car every year and now, it will be my playground for the main event I've lined up for the two open-top roadsters.





Every gearhead is familiar with the Laguna Seca raceway ever since they were nine years old so they are familiar with the breakneck twists and turns as well as the dreaded Corkscrew corner that trips even the best drivers due to the tricky elevation. It's best to be careful when you're out there but because all of you are familiar with Laguna Seca, this should be a walk in the park for you.





Of course, the MX-5/Roadster ND and the 124 Spider are built in the same factory but what differs between then are the dynamics because Fiat engineered the 124 by themselves, meaning most of the components are different than the MX-5 and in the 124 Spider Abarth, the 1.4L MultiAir engine produces slightly more power than the MX-5's SKYACTIV-G 2.0L petrol engine, the engine that is not available in Japan but only offered on the RF variant. Yes, it maybe slightly more powerful but the MX-5 is shockingly lighter than the 124 Spider, meaning these two byproduct of the Axis Powers are on equal footing and equal is kinda boring for me so to spice things up, I've added a little wild card to this showdown.





Surprise! It's an Alfa Romeo 4C and it has the pricing equivalent of these two mentioned above, which is rather expensive for a man with exquisite taste but the 1750cc turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces 240HP of power while mated with a 6-speed Alfa TCT Dual Dry Clutch Transmission, resulting to a 0-100kph time of 4.5 seconds and top speed of 258kph. Yes, I know this is faster than these two but the 4C's not important here because this is the battle of the relatives, although I can use it as a benchmark.



With the 4C set a 1:51.122 lap time, the goal is for these two is to get as close to the time set by it, but sadly, none of them can match the 4C's because it's too darn quick for its own. Still, I can get on with the main event where two Hiroshima-born relatives will settle the score once and for all at the Laguna Seca. This will be a match between power and lightness and because the 124 and the MX-5 are on equal footing, this could be very one-sided.

Time to get this show on the roll...


And now, the moment of truth...

124 - 1:58.495
MX-5 ND - 1:58.799

I called it. It really is a close call for these two because with the 124's grunt and the MX-5 lightness, the result is as close as the Senate majority and I am very shocked that even in the most powerful 124 Abarth, the driving experience is as same as the less powerful but light top-spec variant of the MX-5 and I will never forget this kind of experience.



No matter how many Italian lessons this Japan-born roadster has learn, it still behaves like a lightweight Japanese car and in the case of the most powerful 124 variant, the Abarth, it still behaves like the top-spec MX-5 variant and because of such close result, it's hard to decide which one is the victor, although I had to admit that it was a hollow victory for the 124 Spider Abarth, but a pinch on the result really makes a big difference between the two byproducts of the Axis Powers. Looks like I'm quaking my sitting muscle right about now but I'm glad I put these two for a close match. Speaking of which, I had a little surprise for the 124...







Italian lessons really payed off!

BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo

BMW called the 6-Series dead, to be replaced by the revival of the 8-Series moniker, but by some fate, they brought back the 6-Series, only this time in the form of a five-door liftback with the odd name BMW should have known better. This is the new BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo and this is the start of confusing BMW customers into oblivion because...well, let's find out.

2018 BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo

In the start, BMW wanted odd numbered cars to be labeled Gran Coupe for their saloon derivatives while even numbered cars spawning five-door liftbacks to be labeled Gran Turismo. Now though, things have changed and the odd-numbered Bimmer donned the Gran Turismo moniker for no reason, showing signs that the world has gone out of control just like current affairs in the nutshell. The past 6-Series, based on the F10 BMW 5-Series, has a coupe, convertible, and Gran Coupe saloon, but now that BMW stopped making the old 6-Series lineup, BMW had ran out of options amid the preparation of the return of the 8-Series and because they want to preserve the 6-Series name for no reason, they want to fill the void in the form of what is known to be a liftback version of the G30 5-Series.

2018 BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo interior
2018 BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo interior


Although not as ugly as the bulgy 5-Series Gran Turismo, it wasn't as pretty as the old 6-Series Gran Coupe, which in other words, it's above average to look at and despite being above average, it wasn't as redundant as today's Audi A5 Sportback by the looks of it and we can all live with that.

Step inside and you will be greeted by the usual BMW interior that looks the same as any other Bimmer you know but because this is based on the G30 5-Series, you have familiar features to toy around such as the Gesture Control feature. On the passenger side, despite being a liftback, it is surprisingly posh and when you opt for the one with the rear entertainment system, a lot more hospitable, like a 7-Series.

As for boot space, it's surprisingly more spacious than the old 5-Series GT by about 110 litres, meaning there's more golf bags and suitcases to fill in for some leisure stuff at the country club and that's a good mark for BMW there.

2018 BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo

The 6-Series GT offers three different engines at launch ranging from the 2.0L turbo to the 3.0L diesel, all mated with an 8-speed Steptronic gearbox. The most powerful version is the 640i with the 3.0L turbo petrol engine producing 340PS of power and 450Nm of torque. In xDrive spec, it does 0-100kph in 5.3 seconds and a top speed of an electronically limited 250kph. However, if you need more push on the go, there's the 640d with 680Nm of torque from its 3.0L diesel engine and with xDrive standard, you get a 0-100kph time of 5.3 seconds. Those demanding for efficiency should go for the 630d variant with 4.9 to 5.3L/100km of fuel efficiency based on some standards I don't know about.

What about dynamics? Well, it's pretty decent for a sports saloon and because it has some double-wishbone front suspension and five-link rear suspension reminiscent of some twenty-year old Honda Accord from a past, it feels somewhat agile and comfortable every time it handles like what a proper saloon should be. To get the most out of it, the 6-Series GT can be opted with the Adaptive suspension and Executive Drive, giving the ideal balance of comfort and sportiness on the road ahead, which is pretty much surprising for a 5-Series based liftback that stole the name from the coupe version of the 5-Series. Did I said it out loud, huh? And because it features a lightweight bodywork, the weight distribution is rather good indeed.

The dynamics aren't half bad but because it's tech-focused, the driving assists are going to upset your experience if you're a speedo boy because with stuff like Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning, Parking Assistant, Remote Control Parking, among many others, these tech can intoxicate your experience with the 6-Series GT, well save for the Remote Control Parking because this is very James Bond-ish.

The 6-Series GT starts at 62,300 Euros plus on-road costs and that's more expensive than the G30 5-Series it was based upon. So, what can I say? Although I can be upset about the confusing name, the design, and the pricing, I am impressed about the tech, the interior, and the dynamics that is very promising for a Bimmer and while this car has a love-or-hate attitude, its egoism is what sums this car up the most.

Photo: BMW AG

Saturday, December 9, 2017

BMW X3 G01

The previous BMW X3, some say, is like being a village idiot in a family of geniuses because while it has some BMW dynamics on this crossover, it doesn't live up to the expectations of being an ideal Bimmer for all kinds. So, now that the BMW X3 entered is third generation, has the crossover ever learned from its past mistakes and made it even better?

2018 BMW X3

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, your new BMW X3, and while this is basically labeled as the third generation X3, some say it looks and feels like almost the same as the previous model. Frankly, it is, sort of, because when you scope closer on the X3's new design, you'll find that the front looks frankly similar to the rest of the BMW SUVs while the back of it looks awkwardly similar to the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, a crossover where its little brother, the X1, can take care of. Although awkward to look at, there's a good side that the X3 wasn't as daft as its chief foe, the Audi Q5.

2018 BMW X3 interior
2018 BMW X3 interior

On the inside, there's hardly any improvement at all because it dons the similar BMW interior as seen on the 7-Series and as for the tech, you still get some cool gadgets including the gesture control feature that controls with your gesture. Most people tried it on different Bimmers so the experience will be vaguely similar to this new X3 and apart from that, you can expect Voice Recognition that is hard to master for squeaky-voiced drivers and Heads Up Display that looks like it's almost never exist. On the plus side, it's surprisingly comfortable and has decent space for goods. Although not bad to be practical, there's a clear hint that the new X3 will remind you of the luxury crossover your Auntie drove everyday.

2018 BMW X3

What about dynamics? Has BMW improved the X3 to make it more interesting? Well, intelligent lightweight design, the new X3 features a brilliant weight distribution which makes it more interesting than Audi's Q5, adding delight to the drivers who are willing to make their new X3 their everyday car for business and for leisure.

To make sure the new X3 is fully prepared for everything, it's got xDrive that makes it capable to handle any road conditions, be it tarmac, gravel, or snow alike. That sounds nice but sadly, that daft Audi Q5 can mince it in terms of cornering stability and that is a bad mark for BMW there. Apart from xDrive, the new X3 features BMW Personal CoPilot ranging from the improved Active Cruise Control and the Driving Assistant Plus safety package, including Steering and lane control assistant, Lane Change Assistant and Lane Keeping Assistant with side collision protection, and while it sounds nice enough to put some stuff Google's fussing around with self-driving cars, those stuff will drive them mad because these tech features just spoil their driving experience but still, it takes some tough love to get used to those safety features unless they've summoned the new X3 as their courtesy car from their car-sharing service, which is of course the enemy of every speedo boys of this generation.

There are so many engines to choose from in the new X3, such as the 2.0L petrol turbo, 2.0L diesel, and 3.0L six-cylinder diesel, but the range-topper of the new X3 is the new M40i variant with the 3.0-liter M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology 6-cylinder inline engine that produces 360PS of power and propels it to a 0-100kph time of 4.6 seconds, making it the fastest accelerating crossover in its class. Most of the engines are mated with the 8-speed Steptronic gearbox, which is pretty much decent to us.

The new X3 starts at 44,000 Euros plus on-road costs and that makes it more awfully costly than the Audi Q5 but we'd better stick to this one because although not pretty to look at, the new X3 is starting to feel more promising to drive than the Q5, although its characteristics still make it a village idiot in a family of geniuses. Would you like this or not. That's your decision now, ladies and gentlemen.

Photo: BMW AG

Let's Do The News! (December 9, 2017)



- Despite plans to label the CPP-NPA-NDF as terrorists, President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday said that government negotiators may still revive the peace process between the two sides given that it is the right time.

- Three individuals reportedly kidnapped by the Maute group were discovered lifeless on Thursday, December 7 in Lanao Del Sur. According to the police, the three males were found with numerous bullet wounds at the border of Piagapo and Balindong towns in Lanao Del Sur

- Sen. Gringo Honasan, chairman of the Committee on National Defense, expressed that if there is a need, based on the recommendation and assessment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, the Senate will support extending the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.

- Because of McLaren-Honda's F1 failure in the 2017 season, Honda has called for a change of the engine guard before it switches to supplying engines to Toro Rosso next year, with Yasuke Hasegawa relieved from his post as Head of Formula 1 Project which oversees two roles: to supervise powertrain development at Honda’s research and development facility in Japan, and to direct track-side operations at races and test sessions globally.

- PokeMon GO goes "advanced" as the first wave of Hoenn Pokemon appearing in the AR mobile game in addition to the new Dynamic Weather feature.

- After over three years of aerial dogfights from across the globe, Bandai Namco Entertainment announced that the free-to-play Ace Combat Infinity game for the PlayStation3 will cease on the end of March 2018.


TTFN!!!

Bubble Gang - December 8, 2017 #BGChristmasCarol

On the December 8, 2017 episode of Bubble Gang...

- Christmas carol gags


- The annoying sales agent selling things that doesn't work




- A celebrity's getting sensitive with her image...


- A crime scene investigation takes on a different turn

- The suicide photobomber

- The street rat joke

- Artist plans to start his own fan club


- Saying it with words and gestures

- Basa-basa pik!

Friday, December 8, 2017

THREATS FROM NORTH KOREA: U.S. officials send mixed signals ahead of Winter Olympics



The White House says the United States is looking forward to taking part of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang and that it has no plans of pulling out of the competition.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has tweeted that the U.S. is looking forward to take part of the Games. However, there was some confusion on the matter, the the American ambassador to the UN saying U.S. participation was an open question that needed to be discussed.

Nikki Haley said in an interview that there were questions surrounding whether or not U.S. athletes would travel to South Korea amid threats from North Korea.

Meanwhile, North Korea is apparently looking forward for talks with Washington as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the reclusive state wants to sit down with the U.S. to seek guarantees on its security.

He was quoted by several sources as passing on that message to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Vienna on Thursday, local time.

The two met on the side lines of a ministerial conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Lavrov said Russia is ready to support North Korea's dialogue with the United States adding that it is willing to help facilitate such negotiations.

Source: Arirang News

Let's Do The News! (December 8, 2017)



- Nine sixth-graders of an elementary school have developed fever after the other over a week after they were administered with the anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, a few months ago. Mayor Cris Garbo immediately dispatched health officers to the Lakandula Elementary School amid reports that the students, who remained absent from class as of yesterday, have developed symptoms similar to dengue.

- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to resume the war on drugs after a two-month hiatus during which the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency exclusively took over the operation.

- Effective March 2018, a Filipino-German group bags 978 million peso deal for  the procurement of license plates. Trojan Computer Forms Manufacturing Corp. and J.H. Tonnjes E.A.S.T. GmbH & Co. KG Joint Venture will make its initial delivery of vehicle license plates next year, based on its supply deal with the government.

- Former Saturday Night Live comedian and Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken announced that he will step down from his post amid sexual harassment allegations that continues to hound politicians.

- A brush fire caused by gutsy winds that plagued Southern California all week exploded rapidly Thursday and destroyed dozens of trailer homes in a retirement community north of San Diego.

- Celebrating Volvo's World Touring Car Championship victory, they've released the special Polestar Performance World Champion Edition package for the S60 saloon and V60 wagon, equipped with 19-inch Polestar alloys with UHP tyres, a sculpted diffuser and a new rear spoiler.



- Kia previews an updated version of the Korea-only Ray compact MPV, due for this month's launch.



- Nintendo wins big at this year's THE GAME AWARDS as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the first games on the new Nintendo Switch hybrid console, wins best action game and GAME OF THE YEAR.

- Level 5 announced that the launch for the Yo-Kai Watch Busters 2 games have been delayed to December 16, the same date when the fourth Yo-Kai Watch film hits theaters.

TTFN!!!

The Grand Tour S2: Past, present or future

Amazon Prime's original motoring program, The Grand Tour, returned for its second and most explosive season yet and the new season begins with a disastrous comparison between the past, the present, and the future.

The Grand Tour S2E01

On a road trip to Switzerland, the country that banned motor racing due to some accident in Le Mans a couple of decades ago, Richard Hammond drives a zero-emission electric supercar from Croatia known as the Rimac Concept_One while Jeremy Clarkson blasts himself from the past with the Lamborghini Aventador S, the improved version of Lamborghini's V12 flagship possessing 30PS more power than the old one, and James sticks to the tune of times with the Honda NSX, a hybrid successor to the original.

The trip has became troublesome for some because thanks to Hammond, they spend their night out at a "wellness center", driving through tight shopping districts, travelling through museums, and pretty much it. Bored, the boys are letting loose with a drag race round an airfield where the Rimac wins due to peak torque, which electric cars had the upper hand.

Ending the supercar trip to Switzerland is a hill climb where all that's about to change because it was the exact hill climb where Hammond's involved in the gruesome accident. A fiery one, if you may.

The new season marks the debut of Celebrity Face Off, a new segment where celebrities try their hand out on a special track, driving the Jaguar F-Type. For the first outing of this new segment, it's the battle of the fastest former talent show judges, Ricky Wilson vs. David Hasselhoff. In this segment, The Hoff did it in 1:24.1 while Ricky did it in 1:20.1, the Yorkshire star defeats the Hollywood celeb by four seconds.

What a way to start the season with a big one where it gets boring at the start and fiery at the finish. That's The Grand Tour to us and expect madness for the next eleven weeks from Clarkson, Hammond, and May.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS LITTLE STARS! Akimeite Ding Dong Dang!

While everyone's busy dawdling with their favorite CINDERELLA GIRLS in the Cinderella Girls Gekijo anime shorts, here comes another closing theme song as heard from the said shorts that sounds like at bit late for autumn's end but makes it feel like it's autumn forever.

THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS
LITTLE STARS! Akimeite Ding Dong Dang!

The latest closing theme song from the Cinderella Girls Gekijo shorts is 秋めいて Ding Dong Dang! and the stars of this latest song are Anastasia (CV: Sumire Uesaka), Chie Sasaki (CV: Asaka Imai), Kanade Hayami (CV: Yuko Iida), Karen Hojo (CV: Mai Fuchigami), and Minami Nitta (CV: Aya Suzaki). Of course, you can listen the whole version of the latest closing theme with the whole gang or individually sung by the idols mentioned in the album.

In addition, two bonus tracks featuring Cingeki remixed versions of 輝く世界の魔法 and EVERMORE, in case you had enough fun listening to that.

Keep watching CINDERELLA GIRLS GEKIJO for more antics from your favorite Cinderella Girls!

TRACK LISTINGS:

01 秋めいて Ding Dong Dang!
02 秋めいて Ding Dong Dang! アナスタシアソロ・リミックス
03 秋めいて Ding Dong Dang! 佐々木千枝ソロ・リミックス
04 秋めいて Ding Dong Dang! 速水奏ソロ・リミックス
05 秋めいて Ding Dong Dang! 北条加蓮ソロ・リミックス
06 秋めいて Ding Dong Dang! 新田美波ソロ・リミックス
07 秋めいて Ding Dong Dang! オリジナル・カラオケ
08 輝く世界の魔法 - しんげきRemix-
09 EVERMORE - しんげきRemix -

Lexus RX450hL

2018 Lexus RX450hL
2018 Lexus RX450hL interior

For the first time in Lexus history, there's now a three-row crossover utility vehicle in the lineup in the form of the long-wheelbase variant of the current-generation Lexus RX and with the arrival of the longer and more practical variant of the Lexus RX, there are almost endless possibilities this crossover can make use of, either for family use, for escorts, a trip with the mates, or any kind of activity drivers can see fit.

At first glance, it looks pretty much like the same Lexus RX you're familiar with but since this is the long-wheelbase model, the length of this crossover has gone up to 4.3 inches (110 mm), accommodating the extra rear seats at the back to become a seven-seat crossover no one saw it coming.

Of course, you still have the same bits and bobs you'd expect on the interior but because there's now a third-row seat, there are different ways to get in and out of the RX L and it's not going to be that easy when the second-row seats are heavily occupied by the dreaded child seats because at times when most of the child seats occupied the second-row seats, how are you supposed to get through the third row seats? Sure, it's got surprising headroom not bad by third-row seating standards but because of all the twisting and bending you're going to pull one off while getting through the third-row seats, that will drive you a bit mad.

Don't worry though because the starting price of 7,690,000 Yen is too expensive to be a family carrier, especially when the family carrier is actually based on the Lexus RX450h, which pairs the 262PS D4-S injection 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators, while mated with a CVT gearbox. Such powertrain delivers 17.8km/L of fuel economy based on JC08 Mode standards, which is very impressive for a seven-seater luxury crossover, although it wasn't as enjoyable to drive as they've hoped for. Still, it takes to getting used to its civilized but decent driving style that is very Japanese by Japanese luxury car standards. It even comes with Lexus Safety System + which comprises of Pre-Crash Safety System, Lane Keeping Assist, Automatic High Beam, and Radar Cruise Control.

Even though the RX450hL is too expensive for a family mover, perhaps there's a great way to use the added practicality for this variant aside from using it for impromptu business trips, escorting a VIP, or doing any other stuff you see fit because thanks to the added practicality customers have been demanding for, the RX L might just be fit enough for your next busy schedule.

Source: Toyota Motor Corporation

THREATS FROM NORTH KOREA: UN envoy meets NoKor foreign minister



A senior United Nations official met up with North Korea's foreign minister for a rare high-level talks on Thursday.

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs, met with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on the second full day of the highest-level U.N. visit to the North since 2010. He arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday for a stay expected to last four or five days.

According to North Korea's state-run media, Feltman discussed U.N. assistance and operations in North Korea along with "other matters of mutual concern" during a meeting with the vice foreign minister on Wednesday. Six U.N. agencies, with about 50 international staff, are represented in the North.

Feltman's visit comes amid high tensions on the peninsula fanned by tough talk and posturing by Pyongyang and Washington. The North recently launched its most advanced missile to date and the U.S. and South Korea are now holding joint exercises with some of the world's most powerful fighter aircraft.

Source: Associated Press

Let's Do The News! (December 7, 2017)



- Following Philippine National Police Director General Ronaldo dela Rosa's announcement yesterday that he will retire from his post next month, to be replaced by former Davao City police Apolinario, the spokesman for PNP described the announcement "an impromptu spiel" during a news briefing at Camp Crame, referring to an announcement by Supt. Ercy Nanette Tomas, legal officer of the PNP Center for Police Strategic Management, that Deputy Director Ramon Apolinario is set to replace Dela Rosa when the latter reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Jan. 21.

- According to the DILG, the Philippine National Police has endorsed a recommendation to extend martial law in Mindanao by another year to President Rodrigo Duterte. According to DILG undersecretary Catalino Cuy, ongoing threats of terrorist groups in the region prompted the PNP to endorse the one-year extension. Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte said the decision to extend martial law in Mindanao would be up to the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, since they will be deployed in conflict areas.

- Ahead of his mandatory retirement age of 56 on December 17, AFP chief of staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero's term is extended by President Duterte until April of next year.

- The Department of Health will administer mandatory surveillance of students given Dengvaxia, which has been found to be potentially harmful to those who had no prior dengue infection.

- The Communist Party of the Philippines warned that having President Duterte tagging them as "terrorists" will let his administration target legitimate organizations and extort money from corporations.

- The Australian Parliament voted on Thursday to make same-sex marriage legal, following a bitter and divisive debate settled by the government polling voters in a much-criticized ballot survey that strongly endorsed change.

- Muslims in the Middle East warned of disastrous consequences of having US President Donald Trump recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but in a region more divided than ever, many asked what leaders can do beyond the vehement rhetoric.

- A man has been ordered held Wednesday after being accused in the assassination plot against British Prime Minister Theresa May. The plan allegedly involved planting a bomb near the entrance of Downing Street and then continuing the attack with a knife and suicide vest in a bid to kill the U.K. leader in the ensuing chaos.

- Support from Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken was dropped after fellow Democrats led by female senators abandoned him Wednesday over the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct that are roiling Capitol Hill. The former comedian is set to announce this Thursday.

TTFN!!!

GT SPORT: Past v Future

Counting down on the upcoming season of The Grand Tour, anyone remember the quick comparison test between the BMW i3 and the VW Golf GTi a couple of months ago? On that episode, both the GTi and the i3 had a drag race and then later, a trip to Devon to see concert at the pub, the trip where the petrol-powered Golf GTi trumped the i3, proving that the past is superior than the future. Let's see about that when I compare these two familiar machines right here on GT SPORT.


20171206172352

Well, here they are, although different than the ones seen in The Grand Tour season finale months ago. In the show, Jeremy drives a Golf GTi with five doors while James drives an i3 with the Range Extender feature. In here, I have a three-door GTi and a standard i3 without the REx feature but still, they act as similar as the ones in the show, giving me the ideal opportunity to get to know about the cars.


20171206172401

First, let's get to know about the car of the past, although it came out from the present times, the Volkswagen Golf GTi. On its seventh generation, the Golf GTi is utilized on the Volkswagen Group's MQB platform, which results to better ride quality and uncompromising safety. Under the hood, the 2.0L four-cylinder turbocharged engine has been upgraded so now it produces 216HP of power, resulting to 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds and onwards to 152mph. Apart from the performance, the GTi features improved handling such as the improved XDS electronic control differential lock, adaptive chassis control, and progressive steering, making this hot hatch as sporty as hot hatches can get.

20171206172411

Now, what about the car of the future, the BMW i3? Being one of the firsts of BMW's new i sub-brand, the i3 features futuristic styling with unbiased efficiency and dynamics electric car consumers are longing for. The electric motor that powers it produces 167HP of power and 184.4ft-lb of torque, bringing most of the power to the rear wheels, which is rather a surprise for an electric car like this. Although the top speed is just a dismal 93mph, the i3's electric motors deliver peak torque instantly, meaning it can get off the line quicker than the Golf GTi from a standstill, as demonstrated in that Grand Tour episode I mentioned. At full charge, the i3 can go up to 99.4 miles and when set to ECO PRO + with less air conditioning and power saving measures. 124.2 miles of electric range.

It's amazing that I get to meet along the car of the past and the car of the future but the question is, which one will prevail? To find out, I went to Brands Hatch to settle this debate.

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You may remember that in the drag race portion of this comparo, despite the i3's peak torque, the Golf GTi managed to overtake the i3 and won, making the future very rubbish on television. So, what about the way it behaves when these two are taken very seriously for that matter?

As I tried these two machines, there is a clear difference between these two as even though the Golf GTi has improved handling compared to the previous GTis of yesteryears, it has a tendency to understeer just like any other front-wheel drive car but it feels so lively to drive with and brings out the GTi's true potential as a hot hatch that you can use it everyday.

The i3 maybe rear-wheel drive but it's no drift machine because of the nature of this electric compact but despite that, it has a healthy handling dynamics because the batteries are mounted in the middle for better weight distribution and because of extensive use of carbon fiber on the interior as well as aluminium chassis, not only it's rigid but also very lightweight.

Now, let's find out which one will be the best on a one lap round Brands Hatch. This will decide which will prevail for the future of driving...



And now, the results...

GTi -1:00.222
i3 - 0:59.622

That was a close call for these two machines because even these cars are between less than a second apart, they really are too close to call when it comes to figuring out which one is the best. I mean come on, I'm starting to admire that the BMW i3 behaves like a Golf GTi in every tangible way and because they're similar in terms of dynamics, looks like the boys are absolutely useless at handling these machines with common sense.

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In the battle between the past and the future, it's hard to decide which one will prevail because as the world turns away from fossil fuels, electric cars will become the dominant figure of the future of motoring but some warned that with the rise of electric cars, the world's power supply can't keep up with the trend. In the meantime, while we appreciate the rise of electric cars, the conventional automobile should not be forgotten because even though we spend so much money on refueling our rides, it's safe to say that it was made to get through your ideal points of interests without the drama and as the world's bureaucrats are unleashing a scorched earth policy against petrol and diesel, it could be the ideal time to savor the moment of driving a car with internal combustion engine like there's no tomorrow. And that is the bottom line.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

THE IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE! M@STER SPARKLE 04

THE IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE!
M@STER SPARKLE 04

THE M@STER SPARKLE range continues with their fourth installment of this lineup inspired from THE IDOLM@STER Million Live Theater Days app game where your favorite 765 MILLION STARS perform their own new songs you might end up trying out on solo performances in-game.

For this installment, the stars on this latest installment are Akane Nonohara (CV. Saki Ogasawara), Umi Kousaka (CV. Reina Ueda), Roco (CV. Atsuki Nakamura), Anna Mochizuki (CV. Shiina Natsukawa), and Kana Yabuki (CV. Ibuki Kido). The highlights of this album are performing a brand new song you can expect on this range as well as on the app game later on.

For limited quantities, there is a application ticket for a chance to take part on a special event commemorating the release of this album happening late December.

There are eight M@STER SPARKLE installments in the range and with the fourth installment now available, expect more to come in this range but in the meantime, feel free to listen to these new songs in the first installment of this new range and be sure to download THE IDOLM@STER Million Live Theater Days on the App Store or Google Play. Contains in-app purchases.

TRACK LISTINGS:

01 AIKANE?
02 スポーツ! スポーツ! スポーツ!
03 ART NEEDS HEART BEATS
04 ENTER→PLEASURE
05 あめにうたおう♪

THREATS FROM NORTH KOREA: National Assembly passes 2018 budget



The National Assembly approved the government's 2018 budget early on Wednesday as the main opposition party boycotted the vote to express its objection to some points in the bill, such as the creation of thousands of new government jobs.

The 428.8 trillion won ($394.4 billion) budget centers on creating thousands of new jobs in public sectors, expanding welfare programs, and increasing the minimum wage.

Tu fund the added spending, it calls for raising the corporate and income tax rates for big businesses and top earners.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party stayed away from the vote.

Meanwhile, the United States will deploy a B-1 strategic bomber to Korea on Wednesday as part of the joint air combat training. The strategic bomber, based in Guam, plan to conduct bombing drills together with South Korea's fighter jets.

A pair of B-1Bs were deployed to South Korea in early last month ahead of US President Donald Trump's regional trip.

Then, the European Union lambasted 17 nations, including South Korea as offshore tax havens.

Seoul's finance ministry lodged a strong protest following the announcement, saying the decision was not inline with international agreements and claims the EU has violated its tax sovereignty.

Meanwhile, it has also placed 47 additional countries on a watchlist of countries that have promised to change their tax ruls to meet EU standards. Even more countries could be added to the blacklist which is set to be updated every single year if improvements are not made.

Source: Arirang News

Let's Do The News! (December 6, 2017)



- The Commission of Appointments confirmed that General Rey Leonardo Guerrero is the new chief of staff for the Armed Forces of the Philippines yesterday. Aside from Guerrero’s appointment, the bicameral body also approved the promotion of 40 military officers.

- Associate Justice Samuel Martines is also set to testify on the ongoing impeachment hearing against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Martires is the fifth justice willing to face the House justice panel — now calling itself the impeachment committee — as it continues to examine whether there is probable cause to impeach the chief magistrate.

- Almost a thousand children in public schools got sick over a five-month period after receiving their first dose of the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine, according to reports.

- For the second time in two months, a wildfire broke out in Southern California's Ventura County and grew wildly to nearly 207 square kilometers. Also, the DFA urged Filipinos along path of the recent SoCal wildfires urged to evacuate.

- The Australian government condemns China's activities in South China Sea and urged all claimants to clarify the full nature of their claims in accordance with international law.

- Michigan Democrat Rep. John Conyers Jr. was resigned from his longest-serving post, becoming the first lawmaker to step down as Capitol Hill grapples with allegations of inappropriate behavior by lawmakers.

- Lexus teases the LF-1 Limitless concept crossover ahead of its appearance in January's NAIAS.



- BMW uncovered their ambitious plan to launch 20 new models (including MINI) by 2025, mostly focused on electrification.

- Volkswagen unveiled their Polo R5 rally car for private racing teams, which is powered by a 1.6 litre turbocharged inline-four engine with direct injection producing 272 PS and 400 Nm of torque.



- The Forza Motorsport 7 Doritos Car Pack is now available and it's free for Season Pass/FM7 Ultimate Edition owners. This pack features vintage machines like the Bugatti Type 35, BMW 328, and others, including two of the most powerful SUVs on the market, the third-generation Porsche Cayenne and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.



TTFN!!!
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