When John Lennon Was Starting Up

By Aglaia Staff

John Lennon would have turned 75 on Friday.

He was two months past his 40th birthday when he was murdered as he entered his apartment building, the Dakota, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, on Dec. 8, 1980.

Absent from the music business for five years — most of it spent living the quiet life of a house husband and father in New York — he had just returned to recording. The “Double Fantasy” album he made with his wife, Yoko Ono, had been in stores less than a month. A single from the album, “Just Like Starting Over,” pretty much said it all.

This “starting over” was chronicled in a profile by Robert Palmer in The Times on Nov. 9, a month before the murder. The article, based on a series of interviews with the couple during the making of “Double Fantasy” and after its completion, featured a reflective Lennon and began like this:

“ ‘Is it possible to have a life centered around a family and a child and still be an artist?’ asked John Lennon.”


He answered his own question as Mr. Palmer interviewed the couple in their apartment. “In a way,” he said, “we’re involved in a kind of experiment. Could the family be the inspiration for art, instead of drinking or drugs or whatever? I’m interested in finding that out.”

In another of the interviews with Mr. Palmer, Lennon said: “You know what I listened to for the last five years? Muzak! For the kind of chores I was doing around the house, it was perfect. I know people are going to say, ‘Oh, that’s because he’s got to be 40 and got soft.’ Well, it might be that; it’s irrelevant to me. The attitude is that when you change when you get older, there’s something wrong with that, but the world is stupid enough as it is; if the young were running it, it would be really dumb. Whatever changes I’m going through because I’m 40, I’m thankful for, because they give me some insight into the madness I’ve been living in all my life.”

670px 1 West 72nd Street %28The Dakota%29 by David Shankbone When John Lennon Was Starting Up

Visit aglaia.co.in 1 West 72nd Street (The Dakota) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lennon’s son Sean was then 5, and it was not always certain that he would be raised in New York; both Lennon and Ms. Ono fought immigration battles for years, but when Sean was an infant, the last hurdle was cleared when Lennon was granted permanent-resident status, despite an old marijuana conviction that might have resulted in his deportation.

“This is the best place to bring up a Eurasian child,” Lennon said in a 1976 article reporting on the hearing that decided the matter. “This city is cosmopolitan. Everywhere else, there’s only one flavor.”

The article began: “Yesterday, all of John Lennon’s troubles seemed so far away, and now it looks as though he’s here to stay.”

He wasn’t.


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Singapore Airlines To Launch New Routes

By Aglaia Staff

Singapore Airlines (SIA) will launch a new premium economy cabin class on its Airbus A380 for the New Delhi and Mumbai routes from October 25 and January 2, 2016. respectively, the airlines said on Saturday.

As per the release, this Airbus service will be routed from the aforementioned cities to Singapore, and further onto Sydney, Hong Kong, Auckland, Frankfurt and Los Angeles.

“The premium economy class will be progressively introduced across the Singapore Airlines global network on 19 Airbus A380s, 19 Boeing 777-300ERs and the first 20 Airbus A350s“, the airline said.

To promote the new service, Singapore Airlines will be giving a complimentary one-way premium economy ticket for Vistara, a domestic airline joint venture between Tata and SIA, to KrisFlywer members booking the same class on a flight from Mumbai or New Delhi. The offer is available till December 31, and will be valid from October 25 this year to March 31, 2016, for passengers flying out of New Delhi; and from January 2 to March 31, 2016 for those flying out of Mumbai. Apart from this, “existing and new KrisFlyer members can enjoy additional discounts, ranging between Rs 5,000 – 15,000 per person on select Premium Economy destinations”, stated the release.

Tickets for the new premium economy class are expected to be nearly 60% costlier than the current economy class. The new premium seats were showcased in Mumbai on Saturday, followed by on-spot bookings for interested persons.



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Want A Winning NCAA Bracket! These Factors Count!

By Aglaia Staff

There are a number of factors that determine how far teams advance in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Here are a few to consider when picking your brackets this week:

The Preseason Factor: Often teams that are picked high early in the season find their mojo after struggling in midseason for whatever reason. Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville were tabbed 1-2-3 in the AP Poll and the Spartans and Cardinals are excellent choices to come out of their regions despite only being seeded fourth. The Spartans battled injuries all season but got healthy late and stormed to the Big 10 Tournament title with a solid win over Michigan.

Meanwhile, defending champ Louisville, after non-conference difficulties, cruised to the American Athletic Conference title. Even youthful Kentucky, which dropped completely out of the Top 25, got it together and came within a point of beating No. 1 Florida in the SEC Tournament final. Oklahoma State and North Carolina were also both Top 10 teams at the season’s outset.

Defense Wins: In any sport (see the Super Bowl), you’re better off going with teams that are strong defensively than those which are more offense-oriented. Many of the top teams fit that bill as Florida, Virginia, Louisville, Michigan State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Diego State and Saint Louis pride themselves on being stingy. Unfortunately, a few of these teams such as Syracuse, Pitt and Cincy are challenged offensively which figures to be their downfall. Some of the more explosive teams that are suspect defensively are Villanova, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Kansas, North Carolina, Providence, Duke, UCLA and Creighton.

Point Guard Play: In the old days, having a top center was the key to going far in the tourney. Now the point guard position is the premier position in college basketball. Scottie Wilbekin of Florida, Fred Van Vliet of Wichita State, Shabazz Napier of Connecticut and Tyler Ennis of Syracuse are four of the best in the nation while combo guards Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State, Marcus Paige of North Carolina and Russ Smith of Louisville can score with anyone. On the flip side, Kansas, Duke and Kentucky have been inconsistent at that spot.

Coaches Caches: If all factors are equal, go with the coaches who have tournament experience and have won national titles before. That would be Billy Donovan (twice with Florida in 2006-07), Rick Pitino (both with Kentucky and Louisville), Tom Izzo of Michigan State, Mike Krzyzewski (four titles with Duke), Roy Williams (two titles with North Carolina), Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Bill Self of Kansas and John Calipari of Kentucky.

So, based on the confluence of these factors, here’s one man’s stab at a Final Fo

ur: Louisville, Michigan State, Florida and Oklahoma State. We’ll go with Louisville to defend its title.


 Want A Winning NCAA Bracket! These Factors Count!
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JLF To Sing A Different Tune This Year

By Aglaia Staff

One of the grandest and exotic celebration of words on the planet; the Jaipur Literature Festival has an interesting melange of speakers; both Indian and Western. 

This year’s guest list includes Raj Kundra, Ekta Kapoor and Javed Akhtar among others. 

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US May Be Violating Its Own Norms

By Aglaia Staff

The US embassy and its consulates may be in violation of their own laws concerning the wages paid to the Indian staffemployed by these missions as well as by individualdiplomats, informed sources said here today.

Keeping up the pressure on the US, a special group set up in the External Affairs Ministry will meet here tomorrow to scrutinise the available information regarding the wages being paid to their Indian staff amid indications that these may be violative of the laws.

US embassy and its consulates are still dragging their feet in furnishing to the government the details it has sought about the number of Indian staff employed both in the diplomatic mission and also at the residences by their diplomats. The details sought include the wages paid as well as the tax details.

The deadline to provide such information was December 23 but according to the Ministry of External Affairs no information has been provided as yet. It is understood that the US Embassy has cited Christmas and New Year holidays as the reason for the delay.

The government’s action is a fallout of the arrest and strip-search of Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested in New York on visa fraud charges.

Enforcing strict reciprocity, Indian government has withdrawn extra privilges enjoyed by American Ambassador Nancy Powell and other diplomats such as special access at Indian airports.

While the government is awaiting American response, information available indicates that Indian staff like cooks and drivers were being paid between Rs 12,000-15,000 which is equivalent to $200-250, way below the minimum wage of $9.47 per hour applicable in New York or in any other US city.

Thus, American diplomats would be in violation of US law of minimum wages since their residences as well as the embassy and consulates are treated as American territory.

Even if they provide legal justifications and claim exemption from US laws for the salaries being paid to Indian employees, the public disclosure of such payment practices by US Embassy and diplomats in their personal capacities is likely to deeply embarrass the US.

The US insists on high hourly wages for Indian diplomats employing maids but pays much lower salaries to Indians being employed by its own Embassy and diplomats in India for similar work. There was no immediate response from the US Embassy when contacted by PTI.

The government’s reaction to set up the special group, comprising inter-divisonal experts, including from legal, financial and human resources departments of MEA, to assess and monitor the inputs sought by the governments came after Khobragade, the 39-year-old 1999-batch IFS officer, was arrested in New York on December 12.

Khobragade is accused of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard. The diplomat’s arrest and subsequent treatment had sparked an outrage in India which demanded an apology and dropping of all charges against her.


 US May Be Violating Its Own Norms
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1.5 Crore People Of Delhi Will Run Government

By Aglaia Staff

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal had called upon the Aam Aadmi (common man) come to the Ramlila Maidan in large numbers for the oath taking ceremony of his cabinet and they surely didn’t disappoint him.

It was a sea of white caps and Tricolour at the Ramlila Maidan which was packed to its capacity as Kejriwal and his ministers came to take oath.

The Ramlila Maidan, which was witness to the Jan Lokpal agitation in 2011, was witness to another history when leaders of a year-old party formed government in Delhi. People had reached ground by 8 am but the crowd started filling in only around 10 and by 11.30 the ground was almost packed. The strong crowd of 60,000 was dancing all along and raising slogans for the party.

The ceremony started with Kejriwal’s oath followed by his ministers and was over in less than 20 minutes. And then Kejriwal came on mike amidst huge cheers from public who were eagerly waiting for his address.

Kejriwal in his speech, started with his trademark Bharat Mata ki Jai, announced that today people of Delhi have become CM and ministers. “It is not Kejriwal who took oath today but it is the common man…it is the victory of the common man,” he said, adding “the road to truth is not easy but full of thorns and we will face all future challenges”.

“We are not here to grab power but to give governance back in the hands of people. Now, 1.5 crore people of Delhi will run the government,” he said.

Kejriwal also struck a chord with them when he announced formation of an anti-bribe helpline. “If anyone asks you for bribe for doing any of your legitimate work then don’t refuse … tell him you will pay and then inform us … we will catch him red handed,” said Kejriwal 

The telephone number which would be made functional by mid next week would be to receive complaints against officials demanding bribe will function under the chief minister’s office.

“In most likelihood, a senior rank officer will head it,” sources informed Sources said that “exact modalities are being worked out and specific details will be out within two days as promised by Kejriwal.”

According to a senior Delhi government official, the complaint received on that anti-bribe helpline will be monitored by the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) of the Delhi government. ACB comes under the home ministry, which is with the new chief minister.

He also reached out to Delhi BJP leader Dr Harsh Vardhan. He asked honest BJP and Congress leaders to rise above party lines and work with the AAP.

The Congress, which is supporting the AAP from outside, was absent from the function.


 1.5 Crore People Of Delhi Will Run Government
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Dale Steyn Takes Six Wickets; Nullifies India’s Advantage

By Aglaia Staff

Friday was about two spells: one with the old ball, the other with the semi-new one. It was about the end of an unprecedented drought. It was about pace and purpose. It was about reverse-swing bowling of the highest quality. It was about the chainsaw celebrations. It was about Dale Steyn and his six-wicket haul, one that pegged India back by some distance on Day Two of the deciding Test at Kingsmead. 


 After claiming Shikhar Dhawan with a bouncer on the first morning of the Wanderers Test, the world’s fastest bowler had gone 69 overs without success. It was getting to him. That he had lost the top spot in the ICC rankings –– to teammate Vernon Philander –– may have added to his frustrations.

The entire morning session was lost to rain and when play began at 12:40 pm local time, Steyn had some unfinished business. The pitch, which was as flat as a pancake on Day One, was obviously moist now. And it wasn’t entirely bright. Steyn knew it was time to strike.

Twice he had induced the edge, twice it flew past the man near the gully. Vijay and Pujara were lucky to have survived. Then Steyn exploded. And how! 

After peppering Pujara with a salvo of bouncers, he bowled a fullish delivery on off stump, inviting the batsman to play the drive. Pujara took the bait, but didn’t move his feet. He just ended up pushing at the ball and edged it to the wicketkeeper. He made 70.

In his next over, Steyn targeted Vijay’s ribs with a scorcher of a ball and the opener, who was batting on 97, ended up gloving it. AB de Villiers pouched this one too. 

If you thought Hashim Amla’s dismissal off Ishant Sharma at the Wanderers was a result of a bad leave, then you should have watched how Rohit Sharma shouldered arms to a delivery that pitched just outside the line of off stump. It was an error in judgment, nay imprudence, as Sharma found his middle stump missing. He fell for a golden duck. Steyn’s spell read 5-2-19-3. Mind you, the ball was 71 overs old.

Steyn bowled a few overs with the second new ball, too, but Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane kept him at bay. But when Graeme Smith brought him on in the 103rd over, he had probably told his best bowler to finish the job. Steyn did just that. He had MS Dhoni caught in the slip and tail-enders Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma caught behind. This effort yielded figures of 5-1-13-3.

So in 50 overs, India went from 181/1 to 334 all out, with Steyn getting 6/99. Morne Morkel added the scalps of Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami to register figures of 3/50. JP Duminy also got one, that off Ravindra Jadeja for a duck that gave Jacques Kallis his 200th Test catch.



 Dale Steyn Takes Six Wickets; Nullifies Indias Advantage
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Farooq Sheikh Is No More

By Aglaia Staff

Bollywood woke up to a shocking news on Saturday when veteran actor Farooq Sheikh died of heart attack in Dubai. 

From Amitabh Bachchan to Shekhar Kapur most of them took to Twitter to express the grief and loss the incident caused to the industry. 

The actor, who passed away at the age of 65, is greatly remembered for his roles in notable films such as ‘Noorie’, ‘Chashme Buddoor’, Kissi Se Na Kehna’ and his major contribution to theatre and television as well. 



 Farooq Sheikh Is No More
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Can American Hustle Win The Oscars?

By Aglaia Staff

The Oscars are still over two months away, and while the winners of most categories are anyone’s guess (AmyAdams or Jennifer Lawrence? Jared Leto or Michael Fassbender?), one competition seems to have already crowned its champion, and it’s the one you’d least expect — Best Picture. The top category at the Academy Awards is debatable, seeing as there can be anywhere up to 10 worthy, beloved candidates vying to claim the top prize. This year, though, most critics have narrowed down the race to only two potential nominees they deem worth winning: 12 Years a Slave and Gravity

There’s definitely reason for critics to be placing their bets on one of these two movies. Both 12 Years a Slave and Gravity gained huge notice when they were released earlier this year for their unique settings, jaw-dropping (albeit in very different ways) visuals, and heavy emotional impacts. Critical praise for the films has been nearly unanimous, and seemingly everyone agrees that one of these two movies will take home the Best Picture title come March.

Another contender: “American Hustle”. 


 Can American Hustle Win The Oscars?
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Paul Walker Faked His Death?

By Aglaia Staff

Paul Walker faked his own death? Fans are upset by the latest claim on a conspiracy site.

The report on nodisinfo.com, which is tagged “other hoaxes” and “Zionist terror,” claims that “it is not absolutely confirmed” that Walker and Roger Rodas, who was driving the car that crashed, both faked their deaths.

“This hoax was achieved with collaboration of the entire crew and production team of the Fast & Furious cabal in collaboration with Universal Studios,” the report claims.

As with many conspiracy articles, the site uses a collection of blurry images and suppositions to build the case in the report that Walker did fake his death.

However, Walker died on November 30 in a fiery car crash that also killed Rodas, his friend and business partner.

Since the death, there has been speculation that Walker and Rodas were murdered on similar conspiracy websites.

There have also been some death hoaxes, trying to get people to download videos infected with viruses and the like.

Walker’s family is still in mourning from the sudden death of the 40-year-old, including his daughter Meadow. Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell, his girlfriend of seven years, has also been mourning.

Fans of Walker were not pleased with the report.

“Why would they fake their death to begin with? What is to gain? You’ve presented all of this ‘evidence’ of a faked death and have failed to answer WHY they would even do so to begin with,” commented one. “You’ve just plain failed. Have a little RESPECT for the dead and their loved ones by shutting up and ceasing to spread your moronic views and distracting them from mourning.”

Another commentor added: “Paul Walker is gone people just can’t leave him rest in peace there’s always gotten be a rumor going on …until I see proof otherwise I don’t believe it.”

Others posted on Twitter.

“Why would Paul Walker fake his own death?! Let the dead rest in peace!” said Priscilla Brady.

“Paul Walker didn’t fake his death,” added Sean Donnelly. “People believe everything they read and take it for the truth. Have some respect for his family.”

The website the report is on also claims the Boston Marathon bombing was a hoax, as well as the shooting at Sandy Hook.



 Paul Walker Faked His Death?
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