‘Kim Jong Un’ poses for selfies in Singapore ahead of Trump summit

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A Kim Jong Un impersonator poses holding a durian fruit in front of the Esplanade theater in Singapore on May 27, 2018. (AFP)
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Howard, an Australian-Chinese impersonating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, poses with the skyline of Singapore May 27, 2018. (Reuters)
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Howard, an Australian-Chinese impersonating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, speaks with the Marina Bay Sands hotel in the background in Singapore May 27, 2018. (Reuters)
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A Kim Jong Un impersonator poses holding a durian fruit (R) and a packet of chicken rice (L) against the city skyline in Singapore on May 27, 2018. (AFP)
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A Kim Jong Un impersonator (R) makes an appearance at Merlion Park in Singapore on May 27, 2018. (AFP)
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A Kim Jong Un impersonator poses against the backdrop of the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore on May 27, 2018. (AFP)
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Howard, an Australian-Chinese impersonating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, talks to South Korean students at the Merlion Park in Singapore May 27, 2018. (Reuters)
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A Kim Jong Un impersonator poses for a selfie with tourists at Merlion Park in Singapore on May 27, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2018
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‘Kim Jong Un’ poses for selfies in Singapore ahead of Trump summit

SINGAPORE: Surprised Singaporeans pursued North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday before realizing the portly man with slick black hair near the Marina Bay Sands hotel was an impersonator.
“It looked like the real Kim Jong Un, but later I realized it’s not the real one,” said Sagar Admuthe who was visiting from Mumbai, India, after several selfies with the doppleganger against a backdrop of the city’s bay.
“When you see him, it’s very difficult to make out.”
The Australian-Chinese man posing as the North Korean leader calls himself only Howard X and said he was appearing to wish success for a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump to negotiate an end to the North’s nuclear program.
Howard X also made an appearance as Kim at the Winter Olympics in Gangneung in South Korea in February, bewildering North Korean cheerleaders who initially thought their leader had walked into a hockey stadium.
“I think the two leaders will sit down and they’re going to have a great time, because really they have the same personality,” he said on Sunday. “They are going to be best friends right after this meeting.”|
Trump signalled that preparations for a June 12 summit with Kim were going ahead, despite having called it off last week, and a White House team was scheduled to depart for Singapore this weekend to prepare for the possible summit.
Howard X said Kim’s rise as the third leader of North Korea in 2011 has proved lucrative for him, jump starting a new career in films, commercials and private functions, most often in his home town of Hong Kong.
“I said that guy looks a lot like me, and I thought, wow, I need to do something with this and make some money,” Howard X added.
“This is my normal body,” he said, when asked if he had to put on weight to impersonate the North’s leader. “But he’s fatter, and I can’t catch up ... it’ll damage my health.”
Howard X, who is a musician by training and said he still produces Brazilian music sung in Chinese, said his partner known as Dennis Alan impersonates Trump. Although he could not join him this week, both will return before the summit.
“Hey Donald, I’m already in Singapore, waiting for you to turn up,” Howard X said.


No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Updated 20 January 2019
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No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

  • That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics
  • The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths

BAGHDAD: Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.
Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons — a rare and expensive brand in Iraq — while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.
“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal Al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.
That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics.
“It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members,” Bayati told Reuters as he sat with fellow bikers in a shisha cafe, a regular hangout for members.
“Whenever politics is mentioned, the members are warned once or twice and then expelled. We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them,” he said, referring to sectarian violence.
With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw.
But while their style is unmistakably US-inspired — at least one of Bayati’s cohorts wears a helmet emblazoned with the stars and stripes — these bikers fly the Iraqi flag from the panniers of their machines.
The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths. One of their most recent events was taking party in Army Day celebrations.
Some are in the military, the police and even the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias which have taken part in the fight to oust Islamic State from Iraq in the last three years.
“It is a miniature Iraq,” said member Ahmed Haidar, 36, who works with an international relief agency.
But riding a chopper through Baghdad is quite different from Route 101. The bikers have to slow down at the many military checkpoints set up around the city to deter suicide and car bomb attacks.
And very few can afford a top bike.
“We don’t have a Harley Davidson franchise here,” said Kadhim Naji, a mechanic who specializes in turning ordinary motorbikes into something special.
“So what we do is we alter the motorbike, so it looks similar ... and it is cheaper.”