Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Waiters in the Buff @ X Factor Butlers in Glasgow 03/06/13


Let the battle begin: Sharon Osbourne joins fellow X Factor judges Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger for first day back on the job 


Ready for action: Sharon made sure her return to the show went off with a bang arriving with two topless men in kilts



She's been gone from the panel for a few years but on Tuesday Sharon Osbourne reported for duty once again as a judge on the X Factor. 
The 60-year-old star has posed up for pictures alongside fellow judges Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger and it seems that Sharon is settling back in well. 
The TV personality cuddled up to her old pal Louis and smirked in the snaps, suggesting she plans to bring her previous years of experience to the role. 
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Let the battle begin: Sharon Osbourne takes her place alongside fellow X Factor judges Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger
Let the battle begin: Sharon Osbourne takes her place alongside fellow X Factor judges Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger
On Tuesday, at the first day of auditions for the new series, Sharon revealed that she sees herself as the 'nan' of the panel.
She arrived at her first audition for six years in flamboyant style, flanked by bare-chested hunks wearing kilts as she made her way into the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor Hotel.
Her fellow panellists praised her comeback and said it would change the dynamic of the series for the better.
Osbourne was one of the original judges on the show, serving until 2007, and has been drafted back in to replace Tulisa Contostavlos.
Back in the fold: The 60-year-old seemed thrilled to be back on the panel and posed next to her old friend Louis Walsh
Back in the fold: The 60-year-old seemed thrilled to be back on the panel and posed next to her old friend Louis Walsh
Ready to find new talent: Sharon beamed as she sat behind the panel desk on Tuesday in Glasgow
Ready to find new talent: Sharon beamed as she sat behind the panel desk on Tuesday in Glasgow
As she attended the audition yesterday, she said of her return: 'It’s overwhelming. Honestly, it is. It feels natural, it feels like I should be here. I’ve missed you guys.'
And asked whether she had ever envisaged a further stint on the show, she scoffed: 'No, don’t be ridiculous.'
Osbourne said personality and 'likeability' were as important as vocal talent.
'It’s not just about the voice. You can have the best voice in the world and the oldest saying is "they’ve got the perfect face for radio". You’ve got to have the personality, the likeability,' she said.
'My thing is: "what makes you different from every other guy? We’ve seen 50 of you today so what makes you different from the other 50?" The actual answer that you usually get is "this means everything to me".'

Ready for action: Sharon made sure her return to the show went off with a bang arriving with two topless men in kilts  
Long day but still smiling: Sharon emerged from the first day of auditions beaming
Long day but still smiling: Sharon emerged from the first day of auditions beaming
Her new colleague Gary Barlow said he was looking forward to seeing Osbourne in action.
'It’s very interesting this time because there’s two artists and two managers. That is a great panel right there because managers see different things than artists see.'
'I always think when I’m looking at someone I’m comparing them to what I am and what I do, managers don’t. They have a bigger overview. I’m very interested to see all of the experience Sharon has.'
Welcome back: Gary said he is looking forward to seeing Sharon in action, while Louis is glad to see the return of his old colleague and friend
Welcome back: Gary said he is looking forward to seeing Sharon in action, while Louis is glad to see the return of his old colleague and friend
Welcome back: Gary said he is looking forward to seeing Sharon in action, while Louis is glad to see the return of his old colleague and friend
Fellow judge Louis Walsh said he was pleased to be teaming up with Osbourne once more, adding: 'Sharon brings the madness out in everybody, she’s going to bring the madness out in Gary as well.'
He predicted there would be conflict 'in a good way'.
'We’re all looking for different things. It’s not all about the voice,' he said.


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Gulf Keystone Petrolium Takeover price now?


Erbil and Ankara to sign a strategic agreement


Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and Kurdish Natural Resources Minister Dr. Ashti Hawrami speak during the "Kurdistan Region's Road to Development Conference in Erbil, May 21, 2012. GLOBE PHOTO/Safin Hamid

The Kurdish Globe
Kurdistan is safe, which has prompted international investors, and the KRG has been very keen on encouragingnew businesses to start-up.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has tried to persuade the American oil giant Exxon Mobil to withdraw from Kurdistan and resume its investment in the West Qurna 1 field, which is under the control of Baghdad. Exxon's CEO Rex Tillerson met the Iraqi Prime Minister in January, but has not made any promises, and met with Kurdistan Region's President Massoud Barzani in Zurich, Switzerland the next day, where he reiterated his company's commitment to its contracts with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In a report published by Reuters on the development of Kurdistan Region in the oil and gas industry, Exxon Mobil lawyers and top executives have been examining their decision which could change the balance of power in Iraq if they pull out of Qurna 1 oil filed in Southern Iraq.

Exxon Mobil's entry into Kurdistan Region's oil sector has had an significant impact on the development of this region. It consequently encouraged several other oil giants to sign agreements with KRG for exploring oil, including French giant Total, Russian giant Gazprom and American giant Chevron.

Safety and Stability in Kurdistan

Kurdistan Region is safe, which has prompted international investors, and the KRG has been very keen on encouraging new businesses to start-up. This is in contrast to Southern areas of Iraq, where there is no security or safety for workers. Unfortunately the Iraqi government has not played a positive role in attracting international oil companies to help develop the poor economic infrastructure of this war torn country. Consequently, oil giants have been more keen to sign contracts with Kurdistan Region, as opposed to central and Southern parts of Iraq.

Oil autonomy

During the last few years, Kurdistan Region has been relatively autonomous in the energy industry, Reuters reports. This autonomy and development in Kurdistan has even pushed Exxon Mobil to sacrifice its contracts in the south for the sake of having consistent and fast development with a promising energy industry in the region. An energy expert argues that signing an agreement with Exxon Mobil was a big step towards developing Kurdistan region, and since the agreement this region has changed dramatically. According to the report by Reuters, Kurdistan Region is very rich in oil and gas resources. This has attracted many international energy companies, with many other companies eyeing the region for future investments. The question now has become, how Kurdistan can export its oil rather than whether it has the ability to produce oil.

Kurdistan will not wait for Baghdad

Until recently Kurdistan's oil was exported via a pipeline that is controlled by the central government. However, this line of export was put on hold last month due to Baghdad's refusal to pay oil companies' fees. Reuters reports that KRG authorities will not wait for Baghdad any more, and as a result they have started to export crude oil to Turkey and get refined fuel products in return. Although the volume of exports is small but as per Reuters it is an indication for reaching greater goals in the future, and according to an energy expert "Kurdistan has reached a point in oil and gas sector, where it would not return back and the KRG would no longer support a centralized oil and gas policy".

Erbil-Ankara Relations

Erbil-Baghdad ties have almost reached a deadlock since last year, while KRG has strengthened its ties with neighboring Turkey over the months. A diplomat who is aware about the talks between Erbil and Ankara has said that the two parties are about to sign a very large agreement covering all major energy aspects. The agreement is expected to cover all aspects of exploring and producing Kurdistan's oil by Turkish companies, marketing and exploring the Region's oil and gas to Turkey. In the future this could lead Kurdistan to world markets through Turkey. However, in the present Kurdistan Region will no longer be dependent on Baghdad for oil exports. Consequently Turkey would not depend on Iranian or Russian oil and gas either.

Revenue independency

Reuters report argues that exploring oil is a great success for the Kurds since the region would receive the revenues of its oil exports directly and it would no longer depend on its 17% share in the Iraqi budget as the only source of revenue for the region. Robin Miles, an exports at the Manarco consultancy company states that, "Assume that Kurdistan exports 1 million barrels of oil per day; the revenue of this export would be much more larger than the budget shares it currently gets from the central government".

Relations get balanced

Commenting on the ties between Kurdistan and Turkey, a senior KRG official says that Turkey has a significant impact on the economic development in Kurdistan. The KRG official argues that "When we start exporting oil and gas, everything would change, and our relations would reach a complete balance". Reuters also says that the Turkish government is eagerly working towards improving ties between Ankara and Erbil. Selahattin Cimen, Deputy Energy Minister of Turkey says "cooperation between the KRG and the Turkish government for exporting oil to world markets would strengthen the relations that already exist between us." 


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Aliens colonial marines



We recently got the opportunity to experience the terror of Gearbox's latest shooter, Aliens: Colonial Marines. At a fun location kitted out to look just like Hadley's Hope, complete with fully-dressed Marines and Face-huggers in jars, our time in the bug hunt of the campaign and the mayhem of multiplayer (which we'll be addressing in another preview very soon!) gave us a taste of "just another day in the Corps..."
Aliens; Colonial Marines Preview for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U at GAME

Express elevator to hell... going DOWN!

The Campaign segment we played begins just after your arrival on the planet LV-426. With your skeleton crew of Marines and Bishop in tow, you must make your way to Hadley's Hope. As you wander through the alien terrain of LV-426, shadows will dance in your peripheral vision, giving you the feeling that you are being watched. With this in mind, having the motion tracker out puts you mind at ease.
It's here where we dabbled with the controls. Thankfully the controls are pretty standard for an First Person Shooter, meaning that the only buttons you'll need to learn from scratch are the torch (Down on the D-pad), and the Motion tracker (Left Bumper).
Gearbox has done wonders with the sound in Aliens: Colonial Marines, whether it's the Motion Tracker pinging that'll stop your heart as soon as you hear the blip, or the music, which has been pulled straight from the films. The most notable instance of this was the first sighting of Hadley's Hope, as the music includes the fanfare from Aliens as Ripley and Co saw it for the first time.
To say Hadley's Hope is a mess is an understatement. The atmospheric processor is in pieces with smoke still billowing from within, and the facility has massive chunks missing. Impressive as this looks, it's inside the facility that gets you. Much like the film, bits of debris litter the floors and ceilings in the aftermath of not only the explosion but, the fight the colonists and marines had with the Xenomorph.
Aliens Colonial Marines
Aliens Colonial Marines
Aliens Colonial Marines Aliens Colonial Marines Aliens Colonial Marines Aliens Colonial Marines Aliens Colonial MarinesAliens Colonial Marines Aliens Colonial Marines

Stay Frosty

As you progress into the facility, you have the same sense of nervous excitement during the film, waiting for something to strike, whether it sneaks up unseen, runs full pelt from the front or sets off the ever present Motion Tracker. It's very rare that a game can replicate the same sense of excitement a film has achieved as the film dictates the pace - you're just there for the ride - but ACM manages just that.
Like the Marines before, you head for operations, and although this has been mapped to match the original set, it couldn't look more different! Xenomorph bodies litter the ground, some melted into the floor as the Acid in their blood has neutralised after their death. Part of the wall is missing with the now-destroyed atmospheric processor in view.
It's in operations that you start seeing some of the nods to the film, after entering you hear an exchange between two of the Marines, about the floor, on closer inspection you'll notice that part of the floor is missing where the legendary Hudson fell in battle.
As you make your way out of operations on your first mission in Hadley's Hope, you'll spot other nods, too. The Sentry Turrets are still standing, waiting for a new target. Newt's bed in Medical is upturned and undisturbed. And if you didn't know that it had been 17 days, then you could be forgiven to think that Hicks, Hudson and Co may appear in the next room, but you know that isn't going to happen. However, in true Alien style, as you think your simple-seeming mission is coming to an end, the horde descends...
Aliens; Colonial Marines Preview for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U at GAME

We're not gonna last 17 minutes against those things

The Alien attacks are fast and furious with Xenomorphs coming out of vents, the ceiling and floor and from behind. It's a disorientating experience that, on the harder settings, will test even the most battle-hardened FPS fans out there.
Its here you'll get a handle on the capabilities of the Pulse Rifle and Shotgun. Controlled bursts from the Pulse Rifle will slow a Xeno, with a well placed shot taking them out completely. It also has good range, making this your most valuable weapon.
As the attack intensifies, you're ordered back to operations, where you'll make your first stand in the last place that Hicks and Co. did. Aliens drop from the ceiling and pour through the hole in the building; without help, you're not going to last. So it's time to literally pull out the big guns and grab a sentry gun from the corridor.
With the gun set, you now have a fighting chance against the horde that is relentless in its attack. You'll need to be careful, though, as Xeno blood flies from Shotgun blasts and Pulse Rifle fire, eating at your armour and then your health. But, like the film, as soon as an attack begins, it ends. As you catch your breath from the onslaught, you're given new orders to find a Marine who vanished while exploring.
Aliens; Colonial Marines Preview for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U at GAME

But it's a dry heat

Before leaving operations, you acquire the Xeno-killing Smart Gun. It's a powerful piece of kit but does have its restrictions - as the gun is strapped to you and requires both hands to use, you cannot use the Motion Tracker.
With your finger poised over the trigger you head deeper into the facility to find the missing marine, keeping your eyes peeled for signs of movement. But it's not long before your next close encounter happens in a narrow corridor that once you've entered, you can't get out of.
But panic turns to euphoria as unleash the Smart Gun on the Xeno Masses, cutting them down with ease. With the Smart Gun equipped you have a screen over your eye that targets the Aliens so all you need to do is point and shoot, but, as fun as this sounds, the Smart Gun doesn't have an infinite supply of ammo, and you'll soon find you've chewed through its supply.
Heading deeper you soon find that the metallic and concrete structures have started to twist and become unnatural in their appearance; you are now entering the Xenomorph Hive. So far you've encountered the brute force attacks of the Warrior Xeno; now you'll be subjected to the hide-and-seek methods of the Lurker. Skulking in shadows, this Xeno prefers to wait until your attention is engaged elsewhere and then spring at you from the shadows. This is terrifying!
It was here that our time with the campaign came to an end, but not before seeing one final surprise. As we opened a door to try and escape and find the Marine, we came face to face with a hulking Xeno, smaller than a Queen but bigger than most. This thing wasn't normal. It was decayed and, despite its size, was a shell of the Aliens we've come to know. And as it sprang, the screen went dark.
It was later confirmed that this Xenomorph answers the question of what happened to the stranded when the Queen left, that survived the explosion that tore through Hadley's Hope.

I love the Corps

Aliens: Colonial Marines has managed to capture the heart of the James Cameron's Aliens film. Much of this comes from the fact that FOX and some cast and crew opened up to Gearbox about Aliens, giving great insight into recreating the terrifying atmosphere. But praise must go to Gearbox, too. Their love of the Aliens film shines through in the nods and Easter Eggs that litter the game. Games based on films usually fall under a curse of not living up the film, but as Colonial Marines is something of a spiritual sequel to the movie, it may dodge that bullet!