Computerised singer fools thousands
Computer generated singing sensation Aimi Eguchi has been exposed as a fake. (YOUTUBE)
JAPAN: Fans followers of the supposedly 16-year-old star in the Japanese girl group have been left shocked. Although she looked like the perfect pop star, the Japanese singing sensation Aimi Eguchi wasn't even real.
The young starlet was a hoax, said Daily Mail. She was computer generated from composite pictures of six of the most attractive members of the band AKB48. Her high-pitched singing voice was an auto-tuned actor's, said the daily.
Earlier this year Aimi joined the musical group AKB48, a musical super group in Japan.
The Daily Mail reports Aimi’s AKB 48 profile said that she was 16,competed in track and field, and that she was from Saitama, a prefecture on the island of Honshu.
But diehard fans began to realise that something was not quite right after Aimi, who was initiated as a lowly trainee, starred in a candy advert alongside the group's most established members soon after.
AKB48’s management company initially said: "She’s real. She didn’t take the 12th generation auditions, so we had to quickly accept her (into generation 12.5)," in a statement.
But the hoax was finally unveiled when a website released a video showing how the show's producers had composed her features.
Genderless preschool bans 'him' and 'her'
SWEDEN: At the Egalia preschool, staff avoid using words like "him" or "her" and address the 33 kids as "friends" rather than girls and boys.
From the colour and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don't fall into gender stereotypes.
"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher.
"Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."
The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged one to six is among the most radical examples of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward.
Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.
To even things out, many preschools have hired "gender pedagogues" to help staff identify language and behaviour that risk reinforcing stereotypes.
Some parents worry things have gone too far. An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten.
"Different gender roles aren't problematic as long as they are equally valued," says Tanja Bergkvist, a 37-year-old blogger and a leading voice against what she calls "gender madness" in Sweden.
Those bent on shattering gender roles "say there's a hierarchy where everything that boys do is given higher value, but I wonder who decides that it has higher value," she says. "Why is there higher value in playing with cars?"
At Egalia - the title connotes "equality" - boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole.
Lego bricks and other building blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction.
Director Lotta Rajalin notes that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. From a bookcase, she pulls out a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless - until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg.
Nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no Snow White, Cinderella or other classic fairy tales seen as cementing stereotypes.
Rajalin, 52, says the staff also try to help the children discover new ideas when they play.
"A concrete example could be when they're playing 'house' and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble," she says. "Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on."
Egalia's methods are controversial; some say they amount to mind control. Rajalin says the staff have received threats from racists apparently upset about the preschool's use of black dolls.
But she says that there's a long waiting list for admission to Egalia, and that only one couple has pulled a child out of the school.
Jukka Korpi, 44, says he and his wife chose Egalia "to give our children all the possibilities based on who they are and not on their gender."
Sweden has promoted women's rights for decades, and more recently was a pioneer among European countries in allowing gay and lesbian couples to legalise their partnerships and adopt children.
Gender studies permeate academic life in Sweden. Bergkvist noted on her blog that the state-funded Swedish Science Council had granted $US80,000 ($A76,175) for a postdoctoral fellowship aimed at analysing "the trumpet as a symbol of gender."
Jay Belsky, a child psychologist at the University of California, Davis, said he's not aware of any other school like Egalia, and he questioned whether it was the right way to go.
"The kind of things that boys like to do - run around and turn sticks into swords - will soon be disapproved of," he said. "So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness."
Egalia is unusual even for Sweden. Staff try to shed masculine and feminine references from their speech, including the pronouns him or her - "han" or "hon" in Swedish. Instead, they've have adopted the genderless "hen," a word that doesn't exist in Swedish but is used in some feminist and gay circles.
"We use the word "hen" for example when a doctor, police, electrician or plumber or such is coming to the kindergarten," Rajalin says. "We don't know if it's a he or a she so we just say 'Hen is coming around 2pm' Then the children can imagine both a man or a woman. This widens their view."
Egalia doesn't deny the biological differences between boys and girls - the dolls the children play with are anatomically correct.
What matters is that children understand that their biological differences "don't mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities," Rajalin says. "This is about democracy. About human equality."
Hacker's revenge: Would you like fries with that?
BRISBANE: A disgruntled employee hacked into a store's computer system froma remote location and ordered $67,000 in chickens, to seek revenge.
After quitting his job following a disagreement with his boss, Scott Evan McCormick decided to take an unusual revenge, said The Queensland Times.
The 23-year-old ordered more than AU$67,000 in chickens to be delivered to the fast food restaurant where he had formerly worked.
The food was ordered from five separate suppliers but were all to be delivered to the same outlet in Brisbane's southwest, said the daily.
However, someone noticed the unusually large amount of order placed and cancelled it before delivery.
A court ordered McCormick to perform 150 hours community service for the prank.
Team pays for rights to own nickname
SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa's Football Association (SAFA) will pay five million rand ($732,332.479) for the rights to the popular nickname of the country's soccer team, Bafana Bafana, ending a long running dispute with a licensing company who first registered it.
The sum will be paid over 12 months to Johannesburg-based licensing company Stanton Woodrush, who had registered the nickname almost 20 years ago, SAFA said Friday.
"We feel very happy about the acquisition of the Bafana Bafana name which allows us to exploit this great brand for the good of the game," SAFA president Kirtsen Nematandani told reporters.
It brings to a close a highly divisive issue which had pitted the association against the licensing company in court and also concludes months of post-World Cup negotiations.
Bafana Bafana was a moniker first attached to the team in 1992 by a newspaper reporter.
Loosely translated from Zulu it means "our boys" and quickly became popular although was shunned at first by the football association.
After South Africa won the 1996 African Nations Cup, the nickname became firmly attached to the team and the association sought to embrace it but had already been beaten to the registration of the name as trademark by businessman Stan Smidt, who owned Stanton Woodrush.
SAFA lost a court case over the intellectual property rights nine years ago but later went into a partnership with Stanton Woodrush for apparel and licensing sales using the nickname, worth an estimated 50 million rand.
After last year's World Cup, SAFA made a renewed bid to gain sole rights to the nickname and held lengthy negotiations, at one time threatening to ditch Bafana Bafana and organize a public poll for a new nickname.