Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Teacher tackles gunman supected in school shooting

LITTLETON, Colo. – Math teacher David Benke says he had no time to fear for his life when he tackled a man he said was preparing to reload a rifle to shoot students at a Colorado middle school who were heading home for the day.
And Benke doesn't consider himself a hero for stopping the 32-year-old accused of wounding two students Tuesday at the Littleton school that's just miles from Columbine High School, the site of one of the nation's deadliest school shootings.
"You know, it bugs me that he got another round off," Benke said of the two shots that authorities say Bruco Strongeagle Eastwood fired.
On Tuesday, Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink praised Benke, calling him a hero. Benke, the father of 7-year-old twins and a 13-year-old girl, fought back tears after Mink thanked him.
"I know he feels bad about not being able to intervene sooner, but believe me when I say, I think he stopped what could have been a more tragic event than it was this afternoon," Mink said.
The victims, Deer Creek Middle School students Reagan Webber and Matt Thieu, were both treated at Littleton Adventist Hospital. Spokeswoman Christine Alexander said Webber was treated and released to her home, and Thieu was transferred to another hospital.
Authorities say both victims had surgery Tuesday.
Benke and other teachers were monitoring the parking lot in the afternoon when Benke heard what he thought was a firecracker and began walking toward the noise.
"At first when I was walking over there, it was kind of what a teacher does," Benke said, still shaken hours after Tuesday's shooting. "`Hey kid, what are you doing,' you know that kind of thing."
"Unfortunately he got another round off before I could grab him. He had a bolt action rifle .... He figured out that he wasn't going to be able to get another round chambered before I got to him so he dropped the gun and then we were kind of struggling around trying to get him subdued."
Benke said he doesn't remember the students running from the scene or the time it took sheriff's deputies to arrive at the school. He didn't have time to think about anything happening around him.
The 6-5, former college basketball player oversees the school's track team. He said another teacher was quickly on the scene and both of them pinned the gunman to the ground.
"I basically have my arms and legs wrapped around him, (the other teacher) has his forearm around his front and we were basically trying to get the guy to quit struggling.
School officials could not immediately confirm the names of other teachers who helped subdue the shooter.
"I talked to him while we were on the ground. I was underneath him and his face was pretty close to mine," Benke said. "I asked him, `Why did you do this? Were you a student here?'
"He either didn't respond or his responses didn't make a whole lot of sense," Benke said.
Denver station KUSA-TV reported that Eastwood attended Deer Creek Middle School in the early 1990s.
Eastwood has an arrest record in Colorado dating back to 1996 for menacing, assault, domestic violence and driving under the influence of alcohol, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
In 2005, he participated in a NASA-funded medical study in which he spent 10 days in a hospital bed so scientist could study muscle wasting, an affliction experienced by astronauts during long flights, according to a story in the Rocky Mountain News.
He told the newspaper that he had a lifelong dream of being an astronaut and described his occupation to the newspaper as horse trainer working at his father's Eagle's Nest Ranch in Hudson.
Investigators said Eastwood visited the school previously and was inside shortly before the shooting. He is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday and may face at least two counts of attempted murder.
A man who answered the phone Tuesday night at a number listed for Eastwood identified himself only as "Mr. Eastwood" and said he was Bruco Eastwood's father. He was at a loss for words.
"There's nothing you can say about it. What can you say?" the man told The Associated Press. "Pretty dumb thing to do. I feel bad for the people involved." He wouldn't comment further

Tori To Play Live At Sunset Festival In Zurich

Tori is scheduled to play the Live At Sunset Festival in Zurich on July 14, 2010.
Tickets go on sale at Noon CET this Friday (February 25th) via
Live At Sunset or StarTicket.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

UK offers help to Israelis linked to Dubai killing

JERUSALEM – The British Embassy in Israel said Sunday it is giving new passports to six British nationals whose identities were stolen by the suspects in the slaying of a top Hamas operative in Dubai — a first step toward clearing their names and returning their lives to normal.
The six Britons — and a seventh man whose name appeared on a German passport used by the alleged hit squad — have had their lives thrown into turmoil by the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month. The seven, all dual citizens, have expressed anger and confusion and say they were victims of identity theft.
Officials in the United Arab Emirates said Sunday that at least two more fake Irish passports have been linked to the alleged assassins, and urged European investigators to launch full-scale probes into passport fraud.
The methodical stalking and killing of al-Mabhouh in a luxury hotel room — widely blamed on Israel's Mossad spy agency — has sparked an investigation that has spread across several continents, with investigators probing possible credit card links to U.S.-based banks, and European officials grilling Israeli envoys over fraudulent passports.
Al-Mabhouh body was found in his room at a luxury hotel in Dubai on Jan. 20, and suspicion almost immediately fell on Israel's Mossad spy agency.
The discovery that the identities used by seven of the suspected killers belonged to Israeli citizens has further fueled suspicions that the secretive Mossad agency carried out the hit. Dubai authorities, who have identified a total of 18 suspects, have said they are virtually certain the Mossad was involved.
With suspicion increasingly falling on Israel, a senior EU diplomat in Brussels warned Sunday the affair would damage the Jewish state's relations with the European bloc. The official said the passport controversy "will be harmful for the way Israel is treated by the EU" since it comes on top of strong criticism of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip last year.
The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.
The seven Israelis caught who share names with the suspects have denied any connection with al-Mabhouh's killing. Pictures of the seven alleged assassins released by Dubai bear little or no resemblance to the true holders of the passports.
One of the Israelis, Jonathan Louis Graham, told the Maariv daily Sunday that he'd never even been to Dubai.
"Clearly, that's not me — the person whose picture was published," Graham was quoted as saying. "I've got my passport and I don't know how this happened, but my identity was stolen. I'm a bit angry about what's happened, but I'm going to have to cope with that myself."
Raffi Shamir, a spokesman for the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, said the six British citizens have been invited to arrange for new passports, which are expected to arrive soon.
Shamir said the six British passports used in Dubai had names and passport numbers that matched the owners, but photos and signatures that did not.
He said the new passport numbers would allow those unwittingly caught up in the affair them to travel freely, despite the fact that their names were placed on Interpol's watchlist last week. Interpol has said those whose identities were stolen should be able to travel as usual, though they may face more scrutiny.
The German weekly Der Spiegel reported Saturday that the German passport was not forged, and that German authorities issued a passport for Michael Bodenheimer in 2008. Bodenheimer, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who lives in Israel, said he had no connection to the case.
"While it's true that my parents were born in Germany, I was born in the United States, and that's where I have my passport from," he told Maariv. "I never asked for a German passport, nor have I ever possessed one. This entire story has nothing to do with me."
In Dubai, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, voiced concern Sunday that the assassins used expertly doctored passports from nations that don't require advance UAE visas, allowing them to enter the country without scrutiny.
Emirates' foreign minister, Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, urged European allies to probe how fraudulent passports had been used by the hit squad. Britain, Ireland and France have already summoned Israeli diplomats to seek information on possible Israeli involvement.
Emirati officials close to the investigation said that at least two more suspects in the slaying entered the Emirates on fraudulent Irish passports. They also said some of the 18 suspects visited the Gulf city-state for a reconnaissance mission at least once before the slaying.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The latest allegations bring the number of fake passports allegedly tied to the killing to 13 — six British, five Irish, one French and one German. Two Palestinians are in custody and three suspects remain unidentified.

Outgunned Taliban mounting tough fight in Marjah

MARJAH, Afghanistan – Outnumbered and outgunned, Taliban fighters are mounting a tougher fight than expected in Marjah, Afghan officials said Sunday, as U.S.-led forces converged on a pocket of militants in a western section of the town.
Despite ongoing fighting, the newly appointed civilian chief for Marjah said he plans to fly into the town Monday for the first time since the attack to begin restoring Afghan government control and winning over the population after years of Taliban rule.
With fighter jets, drones and attack helicopters roaring overhead, Marine and Afghan companies advanced Sunday on a 2-square-mile (5.2-sq. kilometer) area where more than 40 insurgents were believed holed up.
"They are squeezed," said Lt. Col. Brian Christmas, commander of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. "It looks like they want to stay and fight but they can always drop their weapons and slip away. That's the nature of this war."
U.S. officials signaled their intention to attack Marjah, a major Taliban supply and opium-smuggling center, months ago, apparently in hopes the insurgents would flee and allow the U.S.-led force to take over quickly and restore an Afghan government presence.
Instead, the insurgents rigged Marjah with bombs and booby traps to slow the allied attack, which began Feb. 13. Teams of Taliban gunmen stayed in the town, delivering sometimes intense volleys of gunfire on Marine and Afghan units slogging through the rutted streets and poppy fields.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the U.S. and its allies had expected the Taliban to leave behind thousands of hidden explosives, which they did. But they were surprised to find that so many militants stayed to fight.
"We predicted it would take many days. But our prediction was that the insurgency would not resist that way," Azimi told The Associated Press in Kabul.
In a statement Sunday, NATO acknowledged that insurgents were putting up a "determined resistance" in various parts of Marjah, although the overall offensive is "on track."
Marine spokesman Lt. Josh Diddams said Sunday that Marines and Afghan troops were continuing to run into "pockets of stiff resistance" though they were making progress. Diddams said no area is completely calm yet although three markets in town — which covers about 80 square miles — are at least partially open.
"Everywhere we've got Marines, we're running into insurgents," Diddams said. In many cases, the militants are fighting out of bunkers fortified with sandbags and other materials.
Before the assault, U.S. officers said they believed 400 to 1,000 insurgents were in Marjah, 360 miles (610 kilometers) southwest of Kabul. About 7,500 U.S. and Afghan troops attacked the town, while thousands more NATO soldiers moved into other Taliban strongholds in surrounding Helmand province.
It was the largest joint NATO-Afghan operation since the Taliban regime was ousted from power in 2001.
NATO's civilian chief in Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill, said the military operation was moving slowly "because of essentially the ruthlessness of the opponent we face and the rules that we've set for ourselves" to protect civilians.
"We could have swept through this place in a couple of days but there would have been a lot of casualties." he said.
NATO said one service member died in a roadside bombing Sunday, bringing the number of international troops killed in the operation to 13. At least one Afghan soldier has been confirmed dead. Senior Marine officers say intelligence reports suggest more than 120 insurgents have died.
The Marjah operation is a major test of a new NATO strategy that stresses protecting civilians over routing insurgents quickly. It's also the first major ground operation since President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan.
In a setback to that strategy, the Dutch prime minister said Sunday that his country's 1,600 troops would probably leave Afghanistan this year. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende spoke a day after his government collapsed when a coalition partner insisted the Dutch troops leave in August as planned.
Most Dutch troops are stationed in Uruzgan province, which borders Helmand to the north. Afghan officials expressed concern that Taliban fighters driven out of Helmand could regroup in Uruzgan without a robust NATO presence.
During Sunday's fighting, Marines found several abandoned Kalashnikov rifles along with ammunition hidden in homes, suggesting that insurgents intended to blend into the local population and fight back later.
Sporadic volleys of insurgent machine-gun fire rang out through the day.
"They shoot from right here in front of a house, they don't care that there are children around," said Abdel Rahim.
Abdul Rahman Saber, chief of the local council for Marjah, said the situation in much of the town was improving — that some residents had been able to return to their homes.
Anxious to begin the task of restoring government authority, Zahir, the new district leader, said he plans to meet Monday with community leaders and townspeople about security, health care and reconstruction.
"The Marines have told us that the situation is better. It's OK. It's good," said Zahir, who like many Afghans goes by one name. "I'm not scared because it is my home. I have come to serve the people."
Life in Marjah, however, remains far from normal. The price of food had soared, with the price of sugar and other staples doubling as the fighting continues.
"The Taliban are fleeing the area, but there is sporadic shooting," Saber said. "Two or three days ago, 12 civilians were wounded by bullets when they were escaping."
On Saturday, President Hamid Karzai urged NATO to do more to protect civilians during combat operations to secure Marjah, although he noted the military alliance had made progress in doing that — mainly by reducing airstrikes and adopting more restrictive combat rules.
NATO forces have repeatedly said they want to prevent civilian casualties, but acknowledged that it is not always possible. On Saturday, the alliance said its troops killed another civilian in the Marjah area, bringing the civilian death toll from the operation to at least 16.
Karzai also reached out to Taliban fighters, urging them to renounce al-Qaida and join with the government.
But the process of reconciliation and reintegration is likely to prove difficult.
On Sunday, Mohammad Jan Rasool Yar, spokesman for Zabul province, said authorities arrested 14 police in the Shar-e-Safa district on Saturday who had defected to the Taliban's side last week. They were found on a bus heading to Pakistan.
NATO said two insurgents, including a suspected Taliban commander, were captured Friday in northern Helmand province. The men are believed to be involved in making roadside bombs. They, along with three others earlier in the week, had been caught as part of an operation to break up the Taliban's weapons supply line.

Cold snap killing Florida's coral reefs

MIAMI (AFP) – The polar snap enveloping much of the United States in record cold has been killing off coral reefs in the normally balmy warm waters off the Florida Keys, experts said Monday.
The unusually chilly weather so far this year has seen sea temperatures plummet in southern Florida -- a fatal development for the coral, which dies when exposed for an extended time to temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit).
Especially in the lower Keys, "temperatures have been lower... there is higher mortality," Diego Lirman, a University of Miami expert on coral, told AFP.
Florida's usually mild and sunny winter weather has given way to record low temperatures during the historic cold snap in recent weeks.
In Miami, the thermometer in January and February regularly dropped below 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 Celsius), the coldest temperatures since 1970.
The cold snap also has led to "bleaching," in which the coral loses pigmentation and ultimately dies.
Destruction of coral having a negative effect on delicate tropical eco-systems in the region, Lirman added, with micro-algae living within the coral forced to leave their habitat for lack of a food source.
Some of the worst affected species are the large brain and star coral, which can take several hundreds of years to grow into the vibrant underwater colonies.
"The Keys have not seen a cold-water bleaching event like this since the winter of 1977-78, when acres of staghorn coral perished," said Billy Causey, southeast regional director of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
Florida's coral reefs are considered a unique natural heritage area in the United States for their proximity to the coast and their expansiveness, running from north of Miami in the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.
The state's myriad of tropical animals also have been impacted by the cold snap so far this year, with iguanas dropping from trees and manatees huddling around waters warmed by power plants.
The cold-blooded iguanas' comfort level begins at 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 Celsius) and they positively thrive at 95 degree Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).
But when temperatures drop below about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), they become immobile, and below about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (five degrees Celsius), they become completely immobile due to a lack of blood flow.
Unable to hold on, the helpless mohawked lizards that shelter in tree branches have been seen falling to the ground, and wildlife officials have offered guidelines to revive them.

Haiti quake more destructive than 2004 tsunami: study

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – The scale of devastation in Haiti is far worse than in Asia after the 2004 tsunami, a study has said, estimating the cost of last month's earthquake at up to 14 billion dollars.
The report released Tuesday from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) raised the possibility that the quake could be the most destructive disaster in modern history.
Its stark assessment comes with Port-au-Prince still lying in ruins more than one month on, while the bodies of more than 200,000 dead pile up in mass graves outside the capital.
The study's release coincided with what would normally be Haiti's annual carnival, an explosion of pulsing music and colorful parades. But this year, the events have been cancelled as no one is in the mood to party.
The preliminary IDB report estimated the damage at between eight and 14 billion dollars in what was already the poorest country in the Americas before the catastrophe.
Factoring in Haiti's population and economic output, the upper estimate would make it the most destructive natural disaster in modern history, the bank said. Related article: Haiti gang turf wars
"Indeed, in this respect the Haiti earthquake was vastly more destructive than the Indonesian tsunami of 2004 and the cyclone that hit Myanmar in 2008," an IDB statement said.
"It caused five times more deaths per million inhabitants than the second-ranking natural killer, the 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua."
Haiti officials say more than 217,000 people were killed in the quake, or about 2.4 percent of the country's population of nine million.
The 14-billion-dollar figure is the Washington-based bank's upper estimate for the cost of reconstructing homes, schools, streets and other infrastructure in Haiti following the January 12 quake.
The IDB said a more detailed accounting of the situation would come in the following months but that its preliminary study showed that the reconstruction cost was likely to be far higher than anticipated.
Meanwhile, Haiti's carnival celebrations, usually the culmination of weeks of parties, were replaced by mourning.
"Everybody's sad," said Nanotte Verly, a 48-year-old mother of nine who lost her home in the quake and sells jewelry and wooden plaques praising Jesus on a roadside. "All the buildings are still collapsed on the ground."
More than a million Haitians are still homeless following the earthquake, living in squalid camps in and around the capital.
Related article: Haiti's raucous carnival replaced by mourning
The traditional center of carnival celebrations, the Champ de Mars park across from the collapsed National Palace, is now a sprawling homeless camp housing some 16,000 people in a maze of tents made of scrap wood and sheets.
Lemaire Sicard, 37, lives at the site and spoke of how the Champ de Mars would be filled with revelers and partying in years past.
"But now there's nothing," he said. "It's not possible. There are people from this area who were hurt -- deaths also."
While aid workers rush to distribute tarpaulins before the rainy season starts, the United Nations says only about 272,000 people have been provided with shelter materials so far.
On his second day in Haiti to give a boost to the relief effort, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Canadian troops in Leogane, a town largely wiped out by the quake where the soldiers are helping set up a hospital.
Harper had earlier said Canada would set up a semi-permanent, 11-million-dollar headquarters for the Haitian government, which currently operates out of a police building because the palace and many government ministries were destroyed in the quake.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was due to arrive here on Wednesday.
In a positive sign for the quake-torn country, American Airlines said it would resume the first commercial flights to Haiti on Friday.

What a nice day!

Hi All,

Well here in Jacksonville fl we are having a nice day at 68 temp and the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in sight. It's just a shame I'm working today and can't enjoy the outside.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lysacek upsets Plushenko for gold medal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Evan Lysacek stood atop the podium, looking dazed as the first notes of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” floated through the arena.
No wonder.
When the guy standing next to him is skating, the medals ceremony usually has a different soundtrack.
USA's Evan Lysacek reacts after performing his free program during the men's figure skating competition on Thursday.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Lysacek became the first
U.S. man to win the Olympic gold medal since Brian Boitano in 1988, shocking everyone—including himself—by upsetting defending champion Evgeni Plushenko on Thursday night. Plushenko, retired the past three years, returned with the sole purpose of making a little history of his own with a second straight gold medal.

“I saw that American flag go up,” Lysacek said, “and I couldn’t believe it was for me.”
Someone else was thinking the same thing.
The last to skate, Plushenko held up both index fingers when he finished, as if to say, “Was there ever any question?” As it turned out, yes.
And it wasn’t really that close.
When Plushenko’s scores were posted, someone in the arena screamed, “Evan Lysacek has won the gold!” Backstage, surrounded by longtime coach Frank Carroll and pairs gold medalists
Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, Lysacek threw back his head in disbelief and utter elation.
“I said to him, `My compliments, you are the Olympic champion,”’ Carroll said.
Evgeni Plushenko of Russia looks dejected in the kiss and cry area.(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
An American man hadn’t won a gold since the last time the games were in
Canada—the epic “Battle of the Brians.” There was no catchy title this time, but the contest was no less riveting.
Lysacek, the reigning world champion, finished with a career-best 257.67, 1.31 ahead of the Russian.
Daisuke Takahashi won the bronze, the first Japanese man to win a figure skating medal at the Olympic Games.
Johnny Weir was sixth and U.S. champ Jeremy Abbott rallied to finish ninth.
“I could have stood up there for hours and thought about every moment of training that I was thinking, ‘God, what if one day?”’ Lysacek said. “And it kept me going and it pushed me.”
Someone handed Lysacek a U.S. flag to take on his victory lap as he left the medals podium, and he waved it a few times before twirling it above his head like a lasso. As he skated around the arena, he held a bouquet aloft in his right hand and clutched his gold medal in the left. No way anyone was going to take this away from him.
Especially not Plushenko.
“I was positive that I won. But I suppose Evan needs a medal more than I do,” Plushenko said through a translator. “Maybe it’s because I already have one. But I have to share with you, two silver and one Olympic gold medal is not too bad.”
Much had been made of Plushenko’s transition scores, the mark given for the steps connecting the elements, as well as his other component scores—think of the old artistic marks. But those didn’t cost him the gold.
Lysacek edged Plushenko on the mark for their technical elements—jumps, spins and footwork. That’s the score where the three-time Olympic medalist and three-time world champion has pretty much made his trademark.
“Plushenko was brilliant in the jumping. He did some brilliant, very difficult things,” Carroll said. “But if you think of his skating, he was very brilliant, then down. And very brilliant, then down. It was going in waves. Evan just sort of stayed in a straight line and kept going at a certain level from the start to the finish.”
Even more surprising? Lysacek won without doing that so-called all-important quadruple jump.
“If the Olympic champion doesn’t know how to jump a quad, I don’t know,” Plushenko said. “Now it’s not men’s figure skating, now it’s dancing.”
But Lysacek makes no apologies for what he does—and doesn’t—do.
He’s done the quad before, but it puts a lot of stress on the left foot that he broke last year. He originally planned to do the quad here, but after feeling pain in the foot again after last month’s U.S. championships, he decided it wasn’t worth the risk of getting hurt and having to miss the games.
“If it was a jumping competition, they’d give you 10 seconds to go do your best jump. But it’s about 4 minutes and 40 seconds of skating and performing from start to finish,” Lysacek said. “That was my challenge tonight, and I feel like I did quite well.”
The first of the big guns to skate in the last group, Lysacek seemed more workmanlike than usual for the first three minutes of the program. Everything he did was technically perfect. His jumps had the control and dependability of a fine Swiss timepiece, and his spins were so well-centered you could see the tight little circle of his tracings clear across the ice.
He didn’t have all his usual flair and charisma, looking more focused on the tasks at hand. But when he landed his last jump, a double axel, Lysacek let loose. His face was so expressive that budding actors should have taken note, and he fixed the judges with a majestic glare during his circular steps. By the time he finished his final spin, fans were roaring their approval.
The last note of his music was still fading when Lysacek pumped his fists and screamed, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” He clapped his hands and skated to center ice, throwing his arms out wide to the crowd and blowing kisses. As he waited for his marks, he put an arm around Carroll, who had yet to coach a gold medalist despite a list of past and present skaters that reads like a Who’s Who on Ice.
“This is just frosting on the cake for me,” said Carroll, who coached Linda Fratianne and Michelle Kwan to silver medals and Timothy Goebel to a bronze. “It’s not something I coveted after a while. It was something I thought maybe would never happen.”
It might not have, had Plushenko been a little better.
He skated with his usual flair and dramatics, drawing laughs from the crowd with his saucy, seductive tango. No one loves the limelight quite like the Russian, and he was in his element. He preened, posed and skated as if certain another gold medal was his.
But Plushenko, who can do jumps in his sleep, was noticeably off. He was crooked in the air on many of his jumps, and had to be part cat to manage to come down on one foot and hold it long enough for it to count. But the funky finishes cost him the bonus points that are the difference between silver and gold. His spins weren’t quite as good as Lysacek’s, either, and he got fewer points for one of his footwork sections.
“I am happy with my performance today,” said Plushenko, who took off his silver medal as soon as he left the ice. “After 3 1/2 years (off) you can win the silver, it’s not bad.”
We likely haven’t seen the last of him, either.
“I knew I would accept any outcome,” he said through a translator. “After this defeat, I’m not going to put my hands down and stop.”
For Takahashi, third was as good as first or second.
“To be the first Japanese man to win an Olympic medal, I am really proud,” he said.
Takahashi is wonderfully expressive, from the bottom of his blades to the tips of his spiky, mop-topped hair. His edge quality is as fine as a master carver’s and his blades are like little lightning strikes, allowing him to change directions and turn without losing a millisecond of speed.
It makes for a fast, energetic and very entertaining program, and he infused it with a healthy dose of sass. He played to the judges and the crowd, taking them along for the ride.
His only flaw was a fall on his opening quadruple toe loop—a jump he hadn’t landed all week.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Well today was my day off..and I just sat around the apt all day. It was raining outside so it was a good day to just sit around.

Celine Dion says new movie a 'VIP' pass for fans

NEW YORK – Celine Dion's new movie, "Celine: Through the Eyes of the World," does more than highlight her performances during her last world tour; it also allows fans rare glimpses of her offstage life.

The documentary shows Dion as a goofy jokester, a doting mother, a tender wife, a wide-eyed tourist, a devoted daughter and more. The cameras tag along for intimate moments the superstar is happy to share with fans.

"I want to be kind of accessible. I don't want to be doing this show business and be different," said Dion, who took off a year after the tour, in a recent interview.

"What we do, it's extravagant, it's extraordinary. ... I don't call it a normal life but we are normal people. For people to see we live as normal as possible ... makes my singing even more true and it gives me an extra bond with my fans."

The movie is being released next week for a limited engagement in theaters.

Dion is working on new albums in English and French, and returns next year to Las Vegas for a three-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

AP: Why did you decide to take fans behind the scenes instead of doing a straight concert film?

Dion: First of all, it was not supposed to be shown. We wanted to make the best out of a privilege of touring the world; having my mother, who is 82 years old and my son, who is 7 years old, and to make it really like a photo album, to bring back home memories. ... It was for a souvenir, really. But then it turned out to be ... quite exquisite.

AP: You left your previous residency in Vegas after five years, needing a break. Then you went on tour. What made you go back to Vegas?

Dion: They've been calling us to go back a lot, and don't forget that I still love what I do a lot. I wonder how can I surpass myself and do something different again. Well, we still have a lot of ideas coming.

AP: You have spoken openly about your struggle to have another child. Do you think speaking out makes you a voice for other women with similar issues?

Dion: In a way, yes, I hope so. ... For me, through my songs, through my life, through my battles, through my hopes, it's a way for me to sing my songs better, to share my life, to help some people. ... If I help people through my voice, through my interviews, through what I go through, I do not want to change that at all. ... I think it's making a difference.

AP: You were part of the "We Are the World" sequel. What was that like?

Dion: Well for me, it was extraordinary. I don't live in show business, so for me when I see artists, I get very excited because I admire them. I don't follow what's out there. ... So when I see the Jonas brothers and Miley Cyrus and Josh Groban and Barbra Streisand, ... I'm very impressed. I admired their careers and I admire what they do and I become a fan. ... It was like, does it get any better than that? Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, everybody (laughs). I was so impressed! And nobody knew which part they were going to do.

AP: And what part did you do?

Dion: When I got there, I was very thrilled, because I didn't know what I was going to do and it didn't matter to me, and then they said, "Can you do the Cyndi Lauper version?" (starts singing the part). It's one of the greatest parts of the song. I was like, "All right!" I was very privileged.

AP: You've been performing for more than 25 years. How do you keep your voice at its peak?

Dion: At 42, my voice has changed — you have to know that it will change. ... Your voice will sound different but it's all for the best. ... You have to move on with it. ... When I served the music at 15, it was with the knowledge at the time. ... But I think I serve the music better at 42 because I know different and I'm not trying to fight it. I just go with the flow and I'm enjoying myself even more today

'Valentine's Day' courts $52.4M opening weekend

LOS ANGELES – The star-studded romance "Valentine's Day" wooed audiences with a $52.4 million opening weekend, easily grabbing the No. 1 spot over the holiday that shares its name, according to studio estimates Sunday.

"To have a movie titled 'Valentine's Day' on Valentine's weekend was a no-brainer that absolutely worked," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for

Directed by Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman"), "Valentine's Day" was a celebrity bonanza. The cast includes Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Jessica Biel, Shirley MacLaine, Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner.

"Valentine's Day" distributor Warner Bros. estimated its love story will be in the $60 million range after Presidents Day on Monday. That would break the Presidents Day weekend record of $52 million set by "Ghost Rider" over the four-day holiday weekend in 2007.

Opening in a tight race for No. 2 were 20th Century Fox's action fantasy "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" with $31.1 million over three days and Universal's werewolf tale "The Wolfman" with $30.6 million.

Adapted from the opening book in Rick Riordan's fantasy series, "Percy Jackson" follows the adventures of a teen who learns he's descended from the ancient Greek gods. The cast includes Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, Catherine Keener and Rosario Dawson.

"The Wolfman" stars Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt in an update of the 1941 Lon Chaney Jr. horror classic about an aristocrat who returns to his ancestral home and is bitten by a werewolf.

Coming in fourth for the weekend was 20th Century Fox's sci-fi sensation "Avatar" with $22 million, adding to a fortune that already has made it Hollywood's biggest modern blockbuster. "Avatar" raised its domestic total to $659.6 million and its worldwide haul to $2.35 billion.

The previous weekend's No. 1 movie, Sony Screen Gems' romantic drama "Dear John," fell to fifth place with $15.3 million, lifting its 10-day total to $53.2 million.

Like "Dear John," "Valentine's Day" drew mainly women, with the female crowd making up 68 percent of the audience, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros.

Playing in 3,665 theaters, "Valentine's Day" had a strong average of $14,300 a cinema. That compared with a $9,267 average in 3,356 theaters for "Percy Jackson" and $9,506 in 3,222 cinemas for "The Wolfman."

Newcomers and holdovers offered something for everyone, with "Valentine's Day" and "Dear John" catering to the date crowd, "Percy Jackson" filling the family niche and the R-rated "The Wolfman" pulling in horror fans.

The breadth of movies in the market lifted Hollywood to a record Presidents Day weekend, with estimating the overall three-day haul at $193 million. That's up 3 percent from the previous record set over Presidents Day weekend last year, when "Friday the 13th" led with a $40.6 million debut.

In limited release, India's "My Name Is Khan" debuted strongly with $1.9 million in 120 theaters, averaging $15,500 a cinema. Released by Fox Searchlight, "My Name Is Khan" features Shahrukh Khan, a superstar in India's Bollywood movie industry based in Mumbai.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Final figures will be released Tuesday.

1. "Valentine's Day," $52.4 million.

2. "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," $31.1 million.

3. "The Wolfman," $30.6 million.

4. "Avatar," $22 million.

5. "Dear John," $15.3 million.

6. "The Tooth Fairy," $5.6 million.

7. "From Paris With Love," $4.7 million.

8. "Edge of Darkness," $4.6 million.

9. "Crazy Heart," $4 million.

10. "When in Rome," $3.4 million.

Head-on train crash in Belgium kills at least 18

BRUSSELS – A commuter train ran a stop light during morning rush hour and collided head-on with another train in a Brussels suburb Monday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 55 in Belgium's deadliest train wreck in decades, officials said.

The impact peeled away the front of one train car and threw at least one other off the tracks, causing amputations and other severe injuries, witnesses and officials said. Train service across Western Europe was disrupted.

The Flanders provincial crisis center said in a statement carried by the Belgian media that at least 18 people were killed. Thirty survivors remained hospitalized, several of them in a "very serious" condition, the statement said.

Lodewijk De Witte, the governor of the province of Flemish Brabant, told reporters that one train "apparently did not heed a stop light."

The trains collided in light snow just outside of the station at Buizingen around 8:30 a.m. (0730GMT).

The force of the collision smashed one train deep into the front of the other, tearing back the metal sides. The trains tipped high into the air and broke overhead power lines.

One of the front cars appeared to have careened across the tracks, demolishing a small maintenance shed next to the rail line. A high concrete wall around the train yard seemed to have kept debris from hitting nearby houses.

It appeared to be the country's worst train wreck since 1954, when a crash near Leuven killed 20 German soccer fans and seriously injured 40 others. In March 28, 2001, eight people died when a crowded train plowed into an empty train driving on the wrong tracks.

Belgian National Railways spokesman Jochen Goovaerts said his agency was awaiting the outcome of the investigation before discussing the cause of Monday's accident.

"It was a nightmare," Christian Wampach, 47, told The Associated Press after medical workers bandaged his head at a sports complex where the less seriously injured were treated. Those hurt more badly were taken to several hospitals in and near Brussels. The Red Cross appealed for blood donations.

"We were thrown about for about 15 seconds. There were a number of people injured in my car but I think all the dead were in the first car," said Wampach, who was in the third car of a Brussels-bound train.

Photos from the scene showed rescuers pulling the wounded from a car that appeared to have tipped onto its side. Other emergency officials rushed victims on stretchers along the tracks.

"When we came out we saw dead bodies lying next to the tracks, some mutilated," said Patricia Lallemand, 40, who was in the same car as Wampach, and was unhurt.

Wira Leire, 20, said he was woken by a loud crashing sound and leapt to his bedroom window to see two cars jackknifed directly in front of his home.

"There were people lying on the ground next to the train, so I grabbed some blankets and ran into the back garden," he said. "But I but couldn't climb over the concrete wall, so I just threw the blankets to the rescuers who were already gathering."

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme canceled a trip to Kosovo, turning around his plane minutes after landing at Pristina's main airport, the Kosovo prime minister's office said.

Eurostar reported on its Web site that its high-speed trains had suspended service in and out of Brussels and could remain shut down all day.

The international high-speed network Thalys, which links major cities in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, temporarily halted all traffic because its trains use the same rails as commuter lines near Hal, said Patricia Baars, a company spokeswoman.

At least four Thalys trains were stopped en route, and the railway operator deployed staffers to stations where they were rerouted to provide assistance to travelers on board, she said.

"No (Thalys) train is moving for the moment ... it's very hard to know today when services will resume," she said. "It appears this was a very severe accident."

Thalys has at least 25 round-trip trains operating between Paris and Brussels each day, plus seven linking Brussels and Amsterdam and six from Belgium to Cologne, Germany.

Luger who died told father he was terrified of Whistler track

The day before he died, luger Nodar Kumaritashvili spoke to his father by phone and said he was terrified of the track at the Whistler Sliding Center.

David Kumaritashvili gave an interview Sunday outside his house in the Georgian mountain town of Bakuriani, recounting one of the last conversations he had with his 21-year-old son. The Wall Street Journal reports:

"He called me before the Olympics, three days ago, and he said, 'Dad, I'm scared of one of the turns.'

"I said, 'Put your legs down on the ice to slow down,' but he said if he started the course he would finish it. ... He was brave."

Nodar Kumaritashvili also spoke with his parents minutes before his fateful slide, telling them he planned to make them proud, according to The Globe and Mail.

Since his death, many people have debated whether the track was too fast or the relatively inexperienced luger was out of his element. A number of Olympic lugers think the track was fine. They fault Kumaritashvili – a sentiment shared by luging officials who deemed the track safe (even while hypocritically lowering the starting location and adding pads to the metal beams that caused the death).

Germany's Natalie Geisenberger, who won a race at Whistler last year, said the women's event has turned into a kids race, a startlingly insensitive remark given the tragedy of Friday:

I'm not happy about the new start.

It’s not a woman’s start, it’s a kinder (German for children’s) start. The rest of the track is OK, but it's not as fast as from the proper start. It's the same for all the athletes, but I don't like it. I felt very good, but now because of the new start it's not fun.

Canadian Regan Lauscher complained that the lowered start means her nation's home-track advantage is "basically gone." Given that some have said Canada's resistance to allow other countries to train at the Whistler track played a role in Kumaritashvili's death, that comment beats out even Geisenberger's for insensitivity. Maybe Lauscher is taking cues from her coach, Wolfgang Staudinger, who said that "exotic sliders" are the reasons luge accidents happen.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sundays at Tiffany's

I'm right now reading Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson. It is a love story about a women named Jane who has a imaginary friend when she is little named Michael. But when Jane gets to be 9 years old Michael has to leave her because she becomes to old for imaginary friends.

Well Jane grows up and forgets all about Michael. But Michael does not forget about her and he is trying in some way to get her to see him again because he loves her and wants her to know it.

That is all I know about the book so far....I'm still reading it. :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Haitian judge poised to release US missionaries

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The 10 U.S. missionaries facing trial for trying to take a busload of children out of Haiti should be released from jail while an investigation continues, a Haitian judge said Thursday, giving the Americans their best news since their arrests nearly two weeks ago.

Judge Bernard Saint-Vil has the final word on whether to free the missionaries, though he gave the prosecutor-general the opportunity to raise objections. He said he was accepting defense attorneys' request to provisionally free the Americans while an investigation of the case continues.

It is unclear when the missionaries, most from an Idaho Baptist church group, might be released, and Saint-Vil said it was too early to say whether they would be able to leave this earthquake-crippled Caribbean nation if granted provisional freedom. It is also unclear what bearing releasing the missionaries might have on whether they go to trial.

Saint-Vil on Thursday privately questioned the last of a group of parents who said they willingly gave their children to the Baptist missionaries, believing the Americans would educate and care for them.

"After listening to the families, I see the possibility that they can all be released," Saint-Vil told The Associated Press. "I am recommending that all 10 Americans be released."

It wasn't known late Thursday whether the prosecutor had received Saint-Vil's formal recommendation. The prosecutor couldn't be reached for comment.

The Americans were charged last week with child kidnapping and criminal association after being arrested Jan. 29 while trying to take 33 children, ages 2 to 12, across the border to an orphanage they were trying to set up in the Dominican Republic.

The following day, group leader Laura Silsby of Meridian, Idaho, told the AP the children were obtained either from orphanages or from distant relatives. She said only children who were found not to have living parents or relatives who could care for them might be put up for adoption.

However, at least 20 of the children are from a single village and have living parents. Some of the parents told the AP they willingly turned over their children to the missionaries because they could no longer feed or otherwise care for them — the children's school and many of their homes collapsed in the quake.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had not personally intervened in the case, as the U.S.-based legal team for one of the missionaries, Jim Allen of Amarillo, Texas, requested in a Tuesday letter.

"We have been very careful not to intervene specifically in this case," Crowley said. "This is a matter for Haitian authorities to resolve."

Crowley added that Washington was "satisfied with the overall conduct of this case."

The pastor of the Meridian, Idaho, church attended by several of the detainees said he had yet to receive any official word on their release.

"Our confidence continues to remain, both in our faith and in our attorneys that represent our people," said Pastor Clint Henry, of Central Valley Baptist Church. "Now we wait and pray, believing that in the coming hours we will receive the news we have waited for."

On Wednesday, from behind cell bars in the stuffy, grimy jail where they have been held, the missionaries refused to be interviewed.

"We've said all we're going to say for now. We don't want to talk now," Silsby said. The women were held separately from the men, who shared their cell with nine Haitian men, some of whom played checkers on the cell floor.

"We will not talk unless our lawyer is present," said Paul Thompson, pastor of the Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Silsby decided last summer to create an orphanage in the Dominican Republic and in November registered the nonprofit New Life Children's Refuge Inc. in Idaho.

After Haiti's catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake, she accelerated the plan and recruited her fellow missionaries. Silsby told the AP she was interested only in saving suffering children.

However, she did not have the Haitian papers required to take the children out of the country, and a Dominican diplomat told the AP he warned her the day the missionaries were arrested that without those papers she could be arrested.

Haitian government officials view the case both as a distraction to the greater issues of earthquake relief and as a matter of national sovereignty. The prospect of child trafficking is taken seriously here, and the Americans' case has provided a government widely criticized at home for its response to the quake an opportunity to show it is functioning.

The case has tapped into fears in Haiti that traffickers would take advantage of the chaos immediately after the quake to abduct children. It also has irritated Haitian government officials conducting business out of the same police station used to jail the Americans. Nearly every government building was destroyed in the quake.

Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has lamented the fact that journalists are paying more attention to 10 Americans than the 3 million Haitians in need of help.

Before the quake, prospective parents crowded every day outside the U.S. Embassy, waiting to apply for visas for the children they wanted to adopt. About 1,000 children were legally adopted by foreigners in 2008 — by French parents in nearly half the cases.

Thousands more Haitian children, orphaned and not, leave the country illicitly each year, according to the U.N. Children's Fund. They are forced into domestic or agricultural labor, used as sex slaves or sold on the clandestine market for adoption.

Tori Amos to Perform at Bonnaroo 2010

Tori is pleased to announced that she will be performing on Friday June 11th at this years Bonnaroo festival. Bonnaroo 2010 will take place June 10 - 13 in Manchester, TN. Visit for more details and ticket information

Madonna wows likely Brazil presidential candidate

SAO PAULO – Madonna spent an hour talking about helping Brazil's poor children with a man who could become the country's next president. He came away wowed by her youthful appearance.

Sao Paulo state Gov. Jose Serra is considered a likely entrant in the 2010 campaign to succeed Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

On Wednesday, Madonna posed for photographers as Serra wrapped an arm around her.

The singer didn't respond to questions about their meeting. Serra said Madonna expressed a desire to help needy young Brazilians after she toured a Sao Paulo center that helps kids.

Serra seemed most impressed by the 52-year-old Madonna's youthfulness. "She seems very young, much less than her (age)."

Alec Baldwin examined at NYC hospital

NEW YORK – Emmy award-winning actor Alec Baldwin was taken to a hospital Thursday after his 14-year-old daughter called 911 saying he had threatened to take pills during an argument on the telephone, a law enforcement official said.

Baldwin's daughter, Ireland, told authorities that she was worried about her father after he said, "I'm tired of this. I'm going to take some pills. I'm going to end this," the official told The Associated Press, quoting from an official report on the matter.

Authorities came to the "30 Rock" star's Central Park West apartment after his daughter called 911 at about 12:10 a.m. Thursday, the official said. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ireland called authorities after the two ended their phone conversation and she couldn't reach him again, the official said.

Baldwin, 51, was released from the hospital in an hour and took no alcohol or pills, spokesman Matthew Hiltzik said.

"This was a misunderstanding on one person's part. Alec was quickly released from the hospital; he's completely fine and will be at work today," Hiltzik said in a statement.

"If there was a real problem or concern, he wouldn't have been released from a hospital within an hour," Hiltzik said later Thursday.

In 2008, Baldwin blamed a bitter custody battle with ex-wife Kim Basinger in part for the anger and frustration he was feeling when he berated their daughter in a phone message leaked earlier to the media.

In the message, Baldwin called Ireland a "rude, thoughtless little pig." He was apparently upset that she had missed his phone call. Baldwin said he apologized to Ireland. He said the message was wrong and "horrified" him.

In his book, "A Promise to Ourselves," Baldwin railed against the family court system in Los Angeles, offered advice based on his own experience with divorce litigation and talked about how one parent can turn a child against another parent.

Evelyn Karamanos, Basinger's publicist in California, didn't immediately return a call from the AP requesting comment.

On March 7, Baldwin and Steve Martin will co-host the 82nd Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

In September, Baldwin won his second straight Emmy Award as lead actor in a comedy for "30 Rock." Last month, he and "30 Rock" co-star Tina Fey won the Screen Actors Guild Award for best acting in a comedy series and he won a Golden Globe Award for best actor in a TV series, comedy or musical.


Key: F-Fiction; NF-Nonfiction; H-Hardcover; P-Paperback

1. "Dear John" by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing) (F-P)

2. "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing) (F-P)

3. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1: The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion) (F-P)

4. "Worst Case" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (Little, Brown) (F-H)

5. "McKettricks of Texas: Tate" by Linda Lael Miller (HQN) (F-P)

6. "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold (Little, Brown) (F-P)

7. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett (Putnam Adult/Amy Einhorn) (F-H)

8. "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime" by John Hellermann and Mark Halperin (Harper) (NF-H)

9. "Hot Rocks" by Nora Roberts (Jove) (F-P)

10. "One Day at a Time" by Danielle Steel (Dell) (F-P)

11. "Flirt" by Laurell K. Hamilton (Berkley) (F-H)

12. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2: The Sea of Monsters" by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion) (F-P)

13. "A Reliable Wife" by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill) (F-P)

14. "Eclipse" by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) (F-H)

15. "The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down" by Andrew Young (Thomas Dunne Books) (NF-H)

16. "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" by Michael Pollan (NF-P)

17. "Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) (F-H)

18. "So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us" by Beth Moore (Tyndale House) (F-H)

19. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3: The Titan's Curse" by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion) (F-H)

20. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4: The Battle of the Labyrinth" by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion) (F-H)

21. "The 39 Clues Book 7: The Viper's Nest" by Peter Lerangis (Scholastic) (F-H)

22. "New Moon" by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) (F-P)

23. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian" by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion) (F-H)

24. "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) (F-P)

25. "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger (Little, Brown) (F-P)

26. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Vintage) (F-P)

27. "The Elusive Bride" by Stephenie Laurens (Avon) (F-P)

28. "Exclusive" by Sandra Brown (Warner Vision) (F-P)

29. "The Scarecrow" by Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing) (F-P)

30. "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis (W.W. Norton & Company) (NF-P)

31. "The Shack" by William P. Young (Windblown Media) (F-P)

32. "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown (Doubleday) (F-H)

33. "On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System" by Henry M. Paulson (Business Plus) (NF-H)

34. "Sweet Little Lies: An L.A. Candy Novel" by Lauren Conrad (HarperCollins) (F-H)

35. "Shutter Island" by Dennis Lehane (HarperCollins) (F-P)

36. "True Colors" by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Griffin) (F-P)

37. "Winter Garden" by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's) (F-H)

38. "Back in Black" by Lon Foster (Berkley) (F-P)

39. "The Lost City of Z" by David Grann (Vintage) (NF-P)

40. "Angel's Peak" by Robyn Carr (Mira) (F-P)

41. "Night Tales" by Nora Roberts (Silhouette) (F-P)

42. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Ultimate Guide" by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion) (F-H)

43. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books) (F-H)

44. "Fancy Nancy: Heart to Heart" by Jane O'Connor, Robin Press Glasser and Carolyn Bracken (Harper Festival) (F-P)

45. "Dead by Midnight" by Beverly Barton (Zebra) (F-P)

46. "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone, Neal D. Barnard M.D. (Rodale Books) (NF-H

47. "Precious" by Sapphire (Vintage) (F-P)

48. "Nauti Deceptions" by Lora Leigh (Berkley) (F-P)

49. "Taming the Highland Bride" by Lynsay Sands (Avon) (F-P)

50. "I am Ozzy" by Ozzy Osbourne, Chris Ayers (Grand Central Publishing)(NF-H)

Next 'Spider-Man' movie to be in 3-D

LOS ANGELES – The new "Spider-Man" plans to swing closer to movie theater audiences.

The next Spidey movie will be filmed in 3-D and is scheduled for release July 3, 2012, Sony Pictures announced Wednesday. The fourth installment is being directed by "(500) Days of Summer" filmmaker Marc Webb following the departure of Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire, the director and star who worked on the previous three "Spider-Man" films.

Production on the next film, which will focus on a younger version of the superhero, will begin later this year.

MTV's 2 awards shows both to be in Calif. in 2010

NEW YORK – It will be one-stop shopping for MTV this awards season: The network is holding both the MTV Movie and the Video Music Awards in the Los Angeles area.

The network announced Wednesday that the movie awards will air live from Universal City, Calif., on June 6. The Video Music Awards, held last year in New York City, will air live from Los Angeles on Sept. 12

British fashion designer McQueen dies at 40

LONDON (AFP) – Flamboyant British fashion designer Alexander McQueen was found dead at his London home Thursday, after apparently committing suicide barely a week after his mother died, police and reports said.

Emergency services were called to the 40-year-old's home in central London and he was pronounced dead at the scene, while Scotland Yard said the death was not being treated as suspicious. Reports said he had hanged himself.

A spokeswoman for the bad boy of British fashion, who rapidly built an international reputation for his outrageous creations, said: "Mr McQueen was found dead this morning at his home."

"At this stage it is inappropriate to comment on this tragic news beyond saying that we are devastated and are sharing a sense of shock and grief," said a statement on his label's website.

McQueen, a four-time winner of the British designer of the year award, was creative director of his own label which was bought out by Gucci and was one of Britain's most lauded fashion designers.

His death came days before London fashion week, and ahead of Paris fashion week next month.

Media reports said his mother Joyce died last week, and in a comment on McQueen's Twitter page on Sunday he wrote that he had had an "awful week, but my friends have been great, but now I have to somehow pull myself together."

The Times newspaper reported that his mother was to be buried on Friday.

McQueen's close friend and fashion icon Isabella Blow killed herself three years ago at the age of 48. Suffering from cancer and depression, she died of a drug overdose after telling friends she was going out shopping.

Tributes poured in after the death was announced.

Fashion world mourns outlandish 'genius' of McQueen

German couture legend Karl Lagerfeld told AFP: "I knew him very little but knew his work, which brought him a lot of success. I found his work very interesting and never banal," he added.

"There was always some attraction to death, his designs were sometimes dehumanised," Lagerfeld said. "Who knows, perhaps after flirting with death too often, death attracts you."

British designer John Galliano, who works for Dior, said: "McQueen was daring, original, exciting.

"He was a fashion revolutionary."

Galliano added that he was saddened by the avant-garde designer's demise "following the death of his beloved mother", just days ago.

Matthew Williamson, a fellow British designer, added his voice to the tributes: "I am shocked and deeply saddened by McQueen's death. He was a genius and his talent was second to none.

"Like many others, I always cited him as a hugely inspirational leader of world fashion. He will be greatly missed."

The death was reported shortly after 10:00 am. Seven hours later, the body was brought out of his home on a stretcher, covered in a red blanket, and loaded into a private ambulance.

Born in London's East End into a working-class family -- his father was a taxi driver -- McQueen rose to fame after graduating from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, a hotbed of British fashion, in 1991.

McQueen cut his teeth as a tailor in Savile Row, where legend has it that he left his distinctive mark -- in the form of hand-written obscenities -- in the lining of a jacket for Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.

After spells with designers Romeo Gigli and Koji Tatsuno, he started his own label and quickly became a controversial figure.

He designed the famous "bumster" trousers, which displayed the cleavage between model's buttocks in a parody of the low-slung trousers worn by workers on London building sites.

After earning the title of best British designer of the Year in 1996, he moved to France, following fellow Londoner Galliano, as chief designer at Givenchy, where he continued to shock.

He toned down his tactics for Paris but enjoyed a further brush with notoriety when he included a disabled amputee model walking on carved wooden legs in a London show.

McQueen's position in the mainstream was assured in 2000, however, when the Gucci Group bought out 51 percent of his label, and the past decade has seen him launch flagship stores in New York, London and Milan

Bill Clinton has stents placed in coronary artery

NEW YORK – Former President Bill Clinton had two stents inserted in one of his heart arteries after being hospitalized with chest pains, an adviser said Thursday. The adviser, Douglas Band, said Clinton underwent the procedure at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Clinton "is in good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts," Band said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left Washington and headed to New York to be with her husband.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


it's no secret that MTV hasn't played music for some time, and now it's official...MTV is NOT music television. MTV has launched a redesigned logo (above right) - one that is monochromatic and conspicuously omits the "music television" tagline. the previous logo had been in use for 30 years.

from the press release:“[the new logo] represents a new visually defined MTV, stimulating its past, present and future and embracing it’s diversity. Everything from Jersey Shore, to the VMAs to collaborations with the MoMA. The logo is part of MTV’s re-invention to connect with today’s millennial generation and bring them in as part of the channel."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The top 10 singles and albums on iTunes

1. "Imma Be," Black Eyed Peas
2. "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
3. "Tik Tok," Ke$ha
4. "Hey, Soul Sister," Train
5. "BedRock," Young Money, Lloyd
6. "Bad Romance," Lady GaGa
7. "In My Head," Jason Derulo
8. "I Gotta Feeling," Black Eyed Peas
9. "Carry Out (feat. Justin Timberlake)," Timbaland
10. "Glitter In the Air," Pink
1. "Rebirth," Lil Wayne
2. "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
3. "Hope for Haiti Now," Various Artists
4. "The Fame Monster (standard)," Lady GaGa
5. "Who I Am," Nick Jonas & The Administration
6. "Play On," Carrie Underwood
7. "Funhouse," Pink
8. "The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies)," Black Eyed Peas
9. "The Foundation," Zac Brown Band
10. "2010 Grammy Nominees," Various Artists

Message In Bottle Makes Its Way Home

More than two years ago, a group of California fishermen threw a message in a bottle into the sea in memory of their friend who passed away. Two weeks ago, they got it back from someone thousands of miles away, KSBW-TV reported.
"We (all) met fishing and stayed together fishing for 30 years," John Saunders said of the group.
Thirty years of fishing, wine drinking and friendship took a sudden turn in 2007 when a member of the group, Bob Dubcich, passed away from a rare form of cancer.
"It was serious, but we always thought he'd make it because he was the strong one," said Brian Kariya.
Dubcich was just days away from turning 60.
"When fishermen lose fishermen, it hurts. Hurts our heart. We loved him," Saunders said.
The eight friends-turned-family decided to send their friend out to where he loved to be -- the sea -- through a message in a bottle. Inside was a letter rolled up.
One night in August 2007, just south of San Diego, Saunders said he "threw (Dubcich) over into the waters and gave him a last goodbye." Or so they thought.
Inside the letter the friends put $20 as a down payment.
"(We said) if anyone found the bottle, send it back and we'd send you $100 so we made sure we'd get it back," Saunders said.
About two weeks ago, they got their special delivery.
"Guess where they found it? In the Philippines," Kariya said.
"To send him on a trip for 10,000 miles was bigger and better than anything we'd ever expected," Saunders said.
The man who found the message was Abner Murrillo, of the Philippines. Murrillo picked up the bottle and sent it back to the group of friends -- a special little miracle from one fisherman to many others.
"He's got to understand that this is a freaking miracle. This bottle made it across that ocean into his hands," said Kariya.
"If he ever comes to America, he's going fishing with us. We're taking him, period," Saunders said.
The three friends sat down Monday night to write a check to the fellow fisherman who completed Dubcich's trip home, but it's not the end of this story.
"I would like to continue the friendship. He might have some great fishing over there," John Hannegan said.
As for just how the bottle made that seemingly impossible journey across the Pacific, the guys seem to think Dubcich may have been baiting them.
"Bob had one hand on that bottle. He was steering the bottle," Kariya said.
"Three years he had his line in the water and he caught the boys and we're back," Saunders said.
The fishermen upped their reward for Murrillo on Monday, writing a check for double the original amount to $200.