Ronaldo seals Real Madrid shootout win over Atletico

Real won a record-extending 11th European Cup/Champions League title on Saturday night at the San Siro when they overcame their city rivals 5-3 on penalties after an absorbing contest ended in a 1-1 draw after extra-time. It meant Zinedine Zidane became the first French coach to win the title and remarkably, just six months after being named head coach. Cristiano Ronaldo, whose 16 goals led Real to the final, fittingly struck the winning penalty to send Real fans into raptures and leave Diego Simeone’s Atletico thinking what could’ve been.

NBA playoff action : Highlights from the East and West conference finals

NBA playoff action : Highlights from the East and West conference finals.

Vivid Sydney lights up for world’s brightest festival

Vivid Sydney is an annual outdoor lighting festival with immersive light installations and projections in Sydney. Part of the lighting festival also includes performances from local and international musicians and an ideas exchange forum featuring public talks and debates from leading creative thinkers. This winter event takes place in central Sydney over the course of three weeks in May and June. The centrepiece of Vivid Sydney is the light sculptures, multimedia interactive work and building projections that transform various buildings and landmarks such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in and around the Sydney central business district into an outdoor night time canvas of art. During the 2015 festival, sites of interest were Central Park, Chatswood and the University of Sydney as well as around the CBD, Darling Harbour and The Rocks.


Vivid began as a Smart light festival in 2009 for energy efficiency curated by Lighting Designer Mary-Anne Kyriakou and headlined by Brian Eno. Eno, in collaboration with lighting designer Bruce Ramus, projected Light Painting onto both sides of the Opera House. The Festival was championed by Mary-Anne Kyriakou, Anthony Bastic, Mike Day, Davina Jackson, Carolyn Grant and Barry Webb.

 Commercial success for Destination NSW 

According to New South Wales Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, Vivid 2012 attracted more than 500,000 visitors to the outdoor exhibition and events, generating around $10 million in income for the state, whereas Vivid 2013 attracted more than 800,000 visitors, contributing more than $20 million to the NSW economy. In 2014, the festival involved the Opera House, Walsh Bay, Circular Quay, The Rocks, North Sydney, Darling Harbour, and, joining in for the first time, Harbour Lights, The Star and Carriageworks. A new projected work by London based creative team 59 Productions illuminated the sails of the Sydney Opera House. In 2015, Vivid Sydney attracted more than 1.7 million visitors to the city.[8] The 2016 Vivid event is expected to include an expanded program of multi-genre music, stimulating presentations and Vivid Talks from global presenters and dazzling light projections across the city. In 2016, a display was added at Taronga Zoo.

Heart of the City 

Another activity located in the harbor was called the Heart of the City. This was one of the more popular activities at Vivid Sydney 2015 due to its immersive nature. The Heart of the City resembled a large, solid beanbag chair and was located near the Sydney Opera House. Upon reaching the front of the line, participants would be asked to seat themselves in the middle of the chair. Once seated, they would be instructed by a Vivid Sydney volunteer to insert their finger into a small hole located near the chair. If your finger was inserted right, the chair would begin to light up red to match your heartbeat. As participants began to notice this, their heart rate would increase causing the chair to light up very quickly.

Obama’s historic Hiroshima visit

Barack Obama has become the first US incumbent president to visit Hiroshima, the Japanese city where America dropped an atomic bomb in 1945. Accompanied by Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, Obama laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Friday before paying tribute to the 140,000 victims of the world’s first nuclear attack. “Seventy-one years ago, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” Obama said in a speech.
He told the assembled crowd that the world has a shared responsibility to ask how to prevent the suffering that took place in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day the US dropped the atomic bomb on the western Japanese city. The bomb “demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself”.
Obama also greeted ageing survivors and embraced one elderly man who appeared overcome with emotion. Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Hiroshima, said Obama tried in his speech to strike the right balance in terms of the audience in Japan but also people listening to him back in the US. “This is something that no president in the 71 years since the bomb was dropped here has felt able to do,” our correspondent said. “So he tried to strike that balance by both talking about the specifics of what happened here, but also trying to put in the context not only of the Second World War, but also of human morality.”

Landmines : The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction

A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically detonated automatically by way of pressure when a target steps on it or drives over it, though other detonation mechanisms are also sometimes used. A land mine may cause damage by direct blast effect, by fragments that are thrown by the blast, or by both.
The name originates from the ancient practice of military mining, where tunnels were dug under enemy fortifications or troop formations by sappers. These killing tunnels (“mines”) were at first collapsed to destroy targets located above, but they were later filled with explosives and detonated in order to cause even greater devastation. Nowadays, in common parlance, land mines generally refer to devices specifically manufactured as anti-personnel or anti-vehicle weapons. Though many types of improvised explosive devices (“IEDs”) can technically be classified as land mines, the term land mine is typically reserved for manufactured devices designed to be used by recognized military services, whereas IED is used for makeshift devices assembled by paramilitary, insurgent, or terrorist groups.
The use of land mines is controversial because of their potential as indiscriminate weapons. They can remain dangerous many years after a conflict has ended, harming the economy and civilians of many developing nations. With pressure from a number of campaign groups organised through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a global movement to prohibit their use led to the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Treaty. To date, 162 States have joined the treaty.


To create defensive tactical barriers, channeling attacking forces into predetermined fire zones or slowing an invading force’s progress to allow reinforcements to arrive. To act as passive area-denial weapons (to deny the enemy use of valuable terrain, resources or facilities when active defense of the area is not desirable or possible). Land mines are currently used in large quantities mostly for this first purpose, thus their widespread use in the demilitarized zones (DMZs) of likely flashpoints such as Cyprus, Afghanistan and Korea. As of 2013, the only governments that still laid land mines were Myanmar in its internal conflict, and Syria in its civil war. Land mines continue to kill or injure at least 4,300 people every year, even decades after the ends of the conflicts for which they were placed.

 Characteristics and functioning 
firing mechanism or other device (including anti-handling devices)
detonator or igniter (sets off the booster charge)
booster charge (may be attached to the fuse, or the igniter, or be part of the main charge)
main charge (in a container, usually forms the body of the mine)
casing (contains all of the above parts)

 Anti-tank mines 

Section of an anti-tank mine. Note the yellow main charge wrapped around a red booster charge, and the secondary fuze well on the side of the mine designed for an anti-handling device. Anti-tank mines were created not long after the invention of the tank in the First World War. At first improvised, purpose-built designs were developed. Set off when a tank passes, they attack the tank at one of its weaker areas — the tracks. They are designed to immobilize or destroy vehicles and their occupants. In U.S. military terminology destroying the vehicles is referred to as a catastrophic kill (k-kill) while only disabling its movement is referred to as a mobility kill (m-kill). Anti-tank mines are typically larger than anti-personnel mines and require more pressure to detonate. The high trigger pressure, normally requiring 100 kilograms (220 lb) prevents them from being set off by infantry or smaller vehicles of lesser importance. More modern anti-tank mines use shaped charges to focus and increase the armor penetration of the explosives.

 Anti-personnel mines 

Anti-personnel mines are designed to kill or injure enemy combatants as opposed to destroying vehicles. They are often designed to injure rather than kill in order to increase the logistical support (evacuation, medical) burden on the opposing force. Some types of anti-personnel mines can also damage the tracks or wheels of armored vehicles. Under the Ottawa Treaty, the Parties undertake not to use, produce, stockpile or transfer anti-personnel mines and ensure their destruction. As of early 2016, 162 countries have joined the Treaty. Thirty-six countries, including the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation and the United States, which together may hold tens of millions of stockpiled antipersonnel mines, are not yet party to the Convention. 

 Laying mines 

Minefields may be laid by several means. The preferred, but most labour-intensive, way is to have engineers bury the mines, since this will make the mines practically invisible and reduce the number of mines needed to deny the enemy an area. Mines can be laid by specialized mine-laying vehicles. Mine-scattering shells may be fired by artillery from a distance of several tens of kilometers. Mines may be dropped from helicopters or airplanes, or ejected from cluster bombs or cruise missiles. Anti-tank minefields can be scattered with anti-personnel mines to make clearing them manually more time-consuming; and anti-personnel minefields are scattered with anti-tank mines to prevent the use of armored vehicles to clear them quickly. Some anti-tank mine types are also able to be triggered by infantry, giving them a dual purpose even though their main and official intention is to work as anti-tank weapons.

Metal detectors were first used for demining, after their invention by the Polish officer Józef Kosacki. His invention, known as the Polish mine detector, was used by the Allies alongside mechanical methods, to clear the German mine fields during the Second Battle of El Alamein when 500 units were shipped to Field Marshal Montgomery’s Eighth Army. The Nazis used captured civilians who were chased across minefields to detonate the explosives. According to Laurence Rees, “Curt von Gottberg, the SS-Obergruppenfuhrer who, during 1943, conducted another huge anti-partisan action called Operation Kottbus on the eastern border of Belorussia, reported that ‘approximately two to three thousand local people were blown up in the clearing of the minefields’.” 

Whereas the placing and arming of mines is relatively inexpensive and simple, the process of detecting and removing them is typically expensive, slow, and dangerous. This is especially true of irregular warfare where mines were used on an ad hoc basis in unmarked areas. Anti-personnel mines are most difficult to find, due to their small size and the fact that many are made almost entirely of non-metallic materials specifically to escape detection.

The Death of Freddie Gray

On April 12, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr., a 25-year-old African-American man, was arrested by the Baltimore Police Department for possessing what the police alleged was an illegal switchblade. While being transported in a police van, Gray fell into a coma and was taken to a trauma center.  Gray died on April 19, 2015; his death was ascribed to injuries to his spinal cord.  On April 21, 2015, pending an investigation of the incident, six Baltimore police officers were suspended with pay.
Prior to this event, Gray had a history of possession and distribution of drugs and major crimes; at least 18 documented cases dating back to 2008. The circumstances of the injuries were initially unclear; eyewitness accounts suggested that the officers involved used unnecessary force against Gray during the arrest—a claim denied by all officers involved. Other eyewitness accounts suggest that Gray’s injuries were self inflected, presumably from a “crash and cash” scam in which Gray had a history of as well.  Commissioner Anthony W. Batts reported that, contrary to department policy,  the officers did not secure him inside the van while driving to the police station; this policy had been put into effect six days prior to Gray’s arrest, following review of other transport-related injuries sustained during police custody in the city, and elsewhere in the country during the preceding years. The medical investigation found that Gray had sustained the injuries while in transport.
On May 1, 2015, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, announced her office had filed charges against six police officers after the medical examiner’s report ruled Gray’s death a homicide. There had been speculation that Gray died as a result of a ‘rough ride’—a form of police brutality in which Gray may have been thrown around the interior of a police vehicle by deliberately abrupt police driving, unable to protect himself due to handcuffs or other restraints. (Rough rides were already implicated in deaths, paralysis, and severe spinal injuries in several other cases.)
The prosecutors stated that they had probable cause to file criminal charges against the six police officers who were believed to be involved in his death. The officer driving the van was charged with second-degree “depraved-heart” murder for his indifference to the considerable risk that Gray might be killed, and others were charged with crimes ranging from manslaughter to illegal arrest. In a later rebuttal to allegations that the knife was illegal, prosecutors argued that Gray was illegally arrested well before the officers knew that he possessed a knife, and without probable cause. On May 21, a grand jury indicted the officers on most of the original charges filed by Mosby with the exception of the charges of illegal imprisonment and false arrest, and added charges of reckless endangerment to all the officers involved.
Gray’s hospitalization and subsequent death resulted in an ongoing series of protests. On April 25, 2015, a major protest in downtown Baltimore turned violent, resulting in 34 arrests and injuries to 15 police officers. After Gray’s funeral on April 27, civil disorder intensified with looting and burning of local businesses and a CVS drug store, culminating with a state of emergency declaration by Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland National Guard deployment to Baltimore, and the establishment of a curfew. On May 3, the National Guard started withdrawing from Baltimore, and the night curfew on the city was lifted.
 Police encountered Freddie Gray on the morning of April 12, 2015, in the street near Baltimore’s Gilmor Homes housing project, an area known to have high levels of home foreclosures, poverty, drug deals and violent crimes. According to the charging documents submitted by the Baltimore police, at 8:39 a.m Lieutenant Brian W. Rice, Officer Edward Nero, and Officer Garrett E. Miller were patrolling on bicycles and “made eye contact” with Gray, who proceeded to flee on foot “unprovoked upon noticing police presence”. Gray was apprehended after a brief foot chase, and was taken into custody “without the use of force or incident”, according to Officer Garret Miller, who wrote he “noticed a knife clipped to the inside of his [Gray’s] front right pocket”. In the formal statement of charges, Officer Miller alleged Gray “did unlawfully carry, possess, and sell a knife commonly known as a switch blade knife, with an automatic spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade within the limits of Baltimore City. The knife was recovered by this officer and found to be a spring assisted one hand operated knife.” The state’s attorney for Baltimore City said the spring-assisted knife Gray was carrying was legal under Maryland law, while a police task force said the knife was a violation of the Baltimore code under which Gray was charged.

The battle for Falluja

Fallujah was the scene of some of the bloodiest urban combat with U.S. forces. In 2004, more than 100 U.S. troops died and another 1,000 were wounded fighting insurgents in house-to-house battles. Once home to more than 250,000 people, only about 60,000 to 100,000 civilians remain in Fallujah, according to the coalition and the United Nations. Many Iraqis are suspicious of the civilians who have not fled, assuming many are IS sympathizers. On Sunday, the Iraqi military repeated calls for civilians to leave, and Davis said leaflets were dropped to warn the population. Those unable to leave were advised to avoid buildings associated with IS and raise a white flag above their homes.
But residents say that because IS controls the main roads, thousands are trapped. The U.N. reported only 80 families have fled in recent days. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there is “a great risk” to about 50,000 civilians estimated by the U.N. to still be in Fallujah. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “It’s important that they have some safe corridors that they could use.” IS previously has used civilians as human shields, forcing families to move with the fighters as they retreat from advancing forces and coalition airstrikes. The practice significantly slowed the pace of other operations in Anbar. While the counterterrorism troops are some of Iraq’s most competent forces, they still rely heavily on air support to retake territory.

Obama to make historic visit to Vietnam

US President Barack Obama left Washington on Sunday for his first visit to Vietnam, a trip aimed at sealing the transformation of an old enemy into a new partner to help counter China’s growing assertiveness. Four decades after the Vietnam War, Obama was expected to use the visit to deepen defence and economic ties with the country’s communist government. “What we want to demonstrate with this visit is a significant upgrade in the relationship between the United States and Vietnam … even as we have areas of difference,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told the Reuters news agency. 

The Grand Canal during the Venice Boat Festival

Rowers go through the Grand Canal during the 42nd Venice Vogalonga. The Vogalonga is a non-competitive boat race that began 42-years ago to protest against the growing use of powerboats in Venice
On November 11, 1974 a group of Venetians, both amateur and professional rowers, had a race in the island of Burano. They came up with an idea of non-competitive “race” in which any kind of rowing boat could participate, in the spirit of historical festivities. The first Vogalonga began the next year with the message to protest against the growing use of powerboats in Venice and the swell damage they do to the historic city.
Participants gather in St Marks Basin in front of the ducal palace. They sing hymns to San Marco (Saint Mark) and begin the “race”. The racecourse is scenic route 30 kilometers long along the various Venetian canals and historical buildings. Each participant receives a commemorative medal and a certificate of participation. They may also receive a prize, chosen randomly, which are often trophy cups and plaques, decorative oars and other mementos local associations, newspapers and the organizing committee have donated.
The numbers of participants has swelled to thousands over the years from all over the world. Some locals have founded new rowing clubs and build their own boats based on real, historical watercraft. Some participants have brought their own kind of boats like the Chinese dragon boats. Some have also chosen to swim through the route instead of rowing. The 2009 Vogalonga event became a small scale disaster, with strong winds overturning several rowboats and 50 people had to be pulled from the water, although police and fire service motorboats were quick on the scene and nobody was seriously injured.