Assad’s son takes part in maths competition in Romania

Hafez al-Assad, son of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attends the International Maths Olympics in Cluj Napoca city July 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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Assad’s son takes part in maths competition in Romania

  • Hafez Assad, 16, is one of 615 students participating in the annual competition

BUCHAREST: The teenage son of Syrian president Bashar Assad is competing in the International Mathematical Olympiad in Romania, where he has asked to be treated like any normal student, an education official said Tuesday.
Hafez Assad, 16, is one of 615 students participating in the annual competition, which this year is being held in the central town of Cluj-Napoca until Saturday.
He already took part in last year’s competition in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where he finished in 528th place out of a total of 615.
“He wants to be treated like a normal student and he acts like one. He checked into a hotel alongside students from 18 countries,” Valentin Cuibus, head of the town’s schools inspectorate, told AFP.
Each country represented has a team of six students.
According to Romanian media reports, security has been stepped up for the event.
Romania is one of the few European countries that still has an embassy in Syria, which has been battered by more than seven years of conflict that has left more than 350,000 people dead, millions more displaced and the country in ruins.
Romania is a popular destination for Syrian students, with thousands graduating from its universities in the last two years.


‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ blurs the line between good and bad

A still from the kid-friendly film. (Sony Pictures Animation)
Updated 23 July 2018
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‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ blurs the line between good and bad

  • The characters are sharply etched out, with pointed features and wonderful detail

CHENNAI: Nothing can be compared to Japanese animation, especially the works of cinematic art created by Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke,” “The Wind Rises”), which is not just sharply political but also intensely emotional. In comparison, American animated films may seem somewhat plastic, though the Hotel Transylvania franchise has risen above the mundane. The latest installment,” Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation,” from director Genndy Tartakovsky, depicts a battle between good and evil.
The plot sees Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler), his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), her human husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) and the entire monster entourage go on a cruise vacation to Atlantis. On board, widowed and lonely Dracula falls head over heels in love with the director of the event, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). However — plot twist! — she is a human being and several centuries younger. Even worse, she is the granddaughter of the legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan), whose bitter enmity with Dracula dates back to the 1800s. It is liberally interspersed with humor, which comes courtesy of the Mummy, the Invisible Man and the giant puppy that Dracula's grandson smuggles aboard the ship.
Tartakovsky, who helmed all three editions of the franchise, undoubtedly employed a brilliant set of animators — the characters are sharply etched out, with pointed features and wonderful detail. The wit flows at a breathless pace, but what is lacking is a certain novelty, which one expects in an ongoing series.
One plus point is that parents will not find themselves wanting for entertainment. Dracula's romance with Ericka may be lost on children, but it will keep the adults entertained. At 97 minutes long, however, the film could have been far more fantastic.