Ramallah scraps Lebanese film over Israel ‘normalization’

Director Ziad Doueiri, left, poses with actors Rita Hayek, right, and Diamand Bou Abboud during a photocall for the movie ‘The Insult’ in Venice. (Reuters)
Updated 23 October 2017
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Ramallah scraps Lebanese film over Israel ‘normalization’

RAMALLAH: A Palestinian city on Sunday canceled the planned screening of a Lebanese film after activists called for a boycott over the director’s “normalization” with Israel.
“The Insult,” which deals with the Lebanese civil war, was scheduled to be screened Monday in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as part of the “Days of Cinema” festival.
But Ramallah’s municipality decided on Sunday to cancel the showing at a city-run facility after pressure from Palestinian activists who accused French-Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri of promoting “normalization” with Israel.
Doueiri’s 2012 film “The Attack,” about an Israeli surgeon of Arab origin whose wife carries out a suicide attack, was partly filmed in Israel.
“The Attack” was banned in Lebanon and prompted authorities to detain Doueiri for questioning on his arrival in Lebanon last month.
Lebanon submitted “The Insult” as its official entry for the Oscars, in the foreign film category.
In Ramallah, activists had planned a protest against the screening and launched a social media campaign urging Palestinians to boycott it.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which campaigns for economic and cultural measures against Israel, had accused Doueiri of “defending normalization” with Israel and called for the screening to be canceled.


Put the toolbox away — new robot assembles IKEA chairs

Updated 19 April 2018
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Put the toolbox away — new robot assembles IKEA chairs

SINGAPORE: Sick of struggling with incomprehensible instructions and a baffling array of planks and screws? Help is at hand in the form of a new robot that can assemble an IKEA chair in minutes.
The robot, developed by scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, can put together the wooden IKEA chair in just eight minutes and 55 seconds — a swift timing that may give even DIY enthusiasts a run for their money.
The device, consisting of two mechanical arms with grippers, starts the process by taking photos of the parts spread on the floor with a 3D camera, which is supposed to mimic the cluttered environment after flat-pack furniture is unboxed.
Each arm has a similar range of motions to that of a human, while sensors mounted on the wrists monitor how much force is being exerted by mechanical fingers as it picks up tiny parts to expertly put the chair together.
“For a robot, putting together an IKEA chair with such precision is more complex than it looks,” said team leader Pham Quang Cuong, an assistant professor at the university.
“The job of assembly ... has to be broken down into different steps, such as identifying where the different chair parts are, the force required to grip the parts, and making sure the robotic arms move without colliding into each other.”
The team is now looking into further developing the robot so it can learn to construct furniture by copying humans, reading an instruction manual or even just viewing a finished product.
They are also working with the automotive and aircraft manufacturing industry where the robot could be used for such tasks as drilling holes in aircraft.
But those looking for help in assembling more household items from Swedish furniture giant IKEA may be disappointed — for now the unnamed robot can only construct a humble chair.