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It’s my love for myself that motivated me: Vidya Balan

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MUMBAI: Bollywood actor Vidya Balan has said that she had struggled most of her life to enjoy a successful transition from small screen to Bollywood.

“Looking at my career graph, I feel nothing short of gratitude. And I’m glad that I can owe all this success to myself. It’s my love for myself that motivated me. My faith in myself and then, my family and friends helped me come this far in my career,” said the Kahaani actor in an interview.

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The 38-year-old rose to fame with films such as Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), Paa (2009), Ishqiya (2010) said there’s always been some external force that guarded her.

“At different points in my personal and professional life, there have been different ‘maseeha’ who came into my life and encouraged me to do better, and not give up despite all odds. It’s this journey that has helped me discover myself,” said the actor, who won the National Award for her film The Dirty Picture (2011).

When asked about why she follows selective people, the Bhool Bhulaiyya actor said, “Maybe that’s the reason I don’t follow too many people on social media. And, trust me, I don’t feel I’m missing on anything. In a way, it’s good that I don’t know what’s happening.”

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Music

YouTube extends music streaming service to Europe

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PARIS: YouTube extended its music streaming service to Europe Monday a month after it launched in North America and parts of Asia.

YouTube Music will offer Europeans millions of songs and videos advertising-free for a subscription of 9.99 euros a month — 11 per cent more expensive than its US version. An existing free version of the standalone service with ads will continue with “a reimagined mobile app and brand new desktop player”, it said.

The Google-owned giant said it would have “thousands of playlists… millions of songs, albums and artist radio” – a tool than allows listeners to build radio lists around a singer or band. The new service is an attempt by the Californian digital empire to combat its fast-growing rivals like Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer.

Google boasts that 1.3 billion internet users already listen to music via YouTube, but it wants a bigger slice of the paid-for music market. The music industry lobby group, the IFPI, said that 176 million people around the world paid to stream music in 2017, the majority on Sweden-based Spotify, which has 75 million paying subscribers.

YouTube has faced criticism from the music industry for abusing its position, with the IFPI saying that it only pays $1 a year per user in royalties to artists while Spotify pays $20.

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Politics

In Iraq, Angelina Jolie calls for focus on conflict prevention

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ARBIL: Hollywood star Angelina Jolie called today for a larger focus on conflict prevention rather than responding to its repercussions, during a visit to Iraq with the UN refugee agency.

“I hope that we can find the strength to find a better way forward together: so that we move into a new era of preventing conflict and reducing instability, rather than simply struggling to deal with its consequences,” Jolie told a news conference at the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region. It was Jolie’s third visit to the camp as UNHCR special envoy, after previous visits in 2012 and 2016. The Domiz camp opened in 2011 and is home to 40,000 Syrian refugees who fled the seven-year civil war across the border.

“When UNHCR’s Syria response was only 50 percent funded last year, and this year it is only 17 percent funded, there are terrible human consequences,” Jolie said. “We should be under no illusion about this,” she added. Late last month, the UN made an “urgent and critical” appeal for donations to its main budget for Syrian refugees after contributions pledged in April failed to trickle in. “When there is not even the bare minimum of aid, refugee families cannot receive adequate medical treatment, women and girls are left vulnerable to sexual violence, many children cannot go to school, and we squander the opportunity of being able to invest in refugees so that they can acquire new skills and support their families,” she said.

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Football

Pique ‘surprise’ as Barcelona lash out over Griezmann decision

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BARCELONA: Spain and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has said he was surprised at the criticism of his role in producing a video in which France star Antoine Griezmann announced he was staying at Atletico Madrid.

Griezmann caused a stir after appearing in the film on Thursday in which he ended speculation about a possible move to Barcelona by committing to Atletico. Barcelona had made Griezmann, the top scorer at Euro 2016, their top summer transfer target. Barcelona defender Pique’s production company, Kosmos Studios, produced the slick film entitled “The Decision”.

Although France coach Didier Deschamps said Friday he had “no problem” with the timing of Griezmann’s announcement, two days before Les Bleus kick off their campaign against Australia in Kazan, the fact Pique played an indirect role in its production has caused controversy in Spain.

Pique, however, said: “I was surprised by the reaction in Barcelona. I’m surprised that my involvement and my love for the club (Barcelona) is being placed in doubt. “I’ve spoken to the (club) president (Josep Maria Bartomeu) and everything’s fine. He was a bit annoyed because he thought he (Griezmann) would sign.”

The film details negotiations between Griezmann and Barcelona before his decision to remain at Atletico and Spanish media reports have focused on assumptions Pique may have known about Griezmann’s intentions, but failed to inform his own club.

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