Singapore Muslims urged to skip mosques in haze

Updated 22 June 2013
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Singapore Muslims urged to skip mosques in haze

Singapore’s top Islamic authority allowed yesterday local Muslims to skip Friday prayers at mosques as smog levels hit a new record high due to forest fires in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation.
“The Office of Mufti opines that it is permitted for male Muslims not to attend Friday prayers during the subsistence of haze which may have hazardous effects to their health or may potentially threaten their lives,” the religious authority said.
It said that the men may perform the midday prayers somewhere else instead of mosques.
Friday mosque prayers are obligatory among devout Muslim males.
Muslims, mostly ethnic Malays, comprise more than 13 percent of Singapore’s population, according to 2012 data.
Singapore’s smog index breached the critical 400 level yesterday, which is potentially life-threatening to the ill and elderly people if sustained over a 24-hour period. The index eased off in the afternoon but remained at officially “unhealthy” levels. Indonesian and Singaporean officials have been holding emergency talks on how to extinguish the fires on farms and plantations on Sumatra, which are also affecting Malaysia.
Indonesian helicopters have been sent to Sumatra for cloud-seeding operations to trigger rain and douse the fires, some of them deliberately set off to clear land for cultivation.
Indonesia is a sprawling archipelago stretching between mainland Asia and Australia.
Despite generating the haze, Indonesia remained a popular destination for Singapore residents seeking short-term relief from the bad air, a survey showed yesterday.
Skyscanner, a global travel search site, said in a statement that online queries on outbound flights had risen by 22 percent from Singapore between June 17 and 20, with Indonesia’s resort island Bali as the top destination followed by Bangkok, Hong Kong, Phuket in Thailand and Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.
Bali and Jakarta are located far enough from Sumatra to remain unaffected by the smog.


’Sesame Street’ sues over new Melissa McCarthy puppet movie

Updated 26 May 2018
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’Sesame Street’ sues over new Melissa McCarthy puppet movie

NEW YORK: The makers of “Sesame Street” are suing the promoter of a new Melissa McCarthy movie, saying it’s abusing the famed puppets’ sterling reputation to advertise the R-rated film.
A judge Friday scheduled a hearing next week to consider a request for immediate relief by Sesame Workshop, which sued Thursday in federal court in Manhattan for unspecified damages and an order forcing the film to be marketed differently.
The film, “The Happytime Murders,” is scheduled for release Aug. 17. McCarthy plays a human detective who teams with a puppet partner to investigate grisly puppet murders.
The lawsuit said the “Sesame Street” brand will be harmed by a just-released movie trailer featuring “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating and even ejaculating puppets” along with the tagline “NO SESAME. ALL STREET.”
STX Productions LLC, in a statement issued in the name of “Fred, Esq,” a lawyer puppet, said it was looking forward to introducing its “adorably unapologetic characters” to adult moviegoers this summer.
“We’re incredibly pleased with the early reaction to the film and how well the trailer has been received by its intended audience,” it said. “While we’re disappointed that Sesame Street does not share in the fun, we are confident in our legal position.”
In court papers, lawyers for Sesame Workshop asked the judge to order STX not to use any of Sesame’s trademarks and intellectual property, including the phrase, “NO SESAME. ALL STREET,” in marketing the film.
They said the marketing materials were confusing viewers into thinking Sesame was involved with or endorsed “this subversion of its own programming — thereby irreparably harming Sesame and its goodwill and brand.”
In a release before the film was made, STX said it would be produced by The Jim Henson Company’s Henson Alternative banner, On The Day Productions, and STXfilms, along with individuals including Brian Henson, Lisa Henson, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone, among others.
In court papers, Sesame’s lawyers said Lisa Henson, chief executive and president of Henson, just days ago emailed Sesame’s chief executive, Jeffrey Dunn, saying it made her “terribly sad” that the marketing campaign “has devolved to this state of affairs.”
Henson said Henson Alternative disagreed with the decision to reference Muppets and Sesame and argued against it, but “contractually we don’t have the right to change it,” according to the court papers.
She also said the Hensons did not view the film as a parody of the Muppets and “resisted creative suggestions. ...Therefore, trading off the famous Muppets to sell the film is exactly what we did not want to have happen,” the court papers said.