Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Heather Mills knocked out of dance show

Heather Mills, the estranged wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, has been voted off the US reality show 'Dancing with the Stars'.
The 39-year-old former model made it through to the sixth week of the show with her dance partner Jonathan Roberts before being eliminated.
Mills was ranked fifth by the judges, out of the seven remaining couples, placing her in the bottom two.

She then lost out on a place in next week's show when the public votes were counted.
Mills said: "We knew we were going out", adding that the public response to her had "been overwhelming".

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Steve McQueen Honored At Western Awards

Sam Elliott and the late Steve McQueen have been inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers.
They were honored at the 46th annual Western Heritage Awards on Saturday. A sellout crowd of more than 1,200 attended the event at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Veteran stuntman Dean Smith received the Board of Directors' Lifetime Achievement Award.

He has been a stunt-double for Roy Rogers, Dale Robertson, Ben Johnson, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall and Steve Martin, among others.

"What a great night you've made for this old cowboy. I'm glad to be included in this museum with all my heroes," Smith said. "I want to thank everyone who's helped me. I've spent a lifetime playing cowboys and Indians, competing in rodeos and making Western movies."
Elliott, 62, served as master of ceremonies.

McQueen died in 1980 at the age of 50. He starred in Western films including "The Magnificent Seven," "Junior Bonner" and "Nevada Smith." He also starred as Josh Randall in the popular 1950s TV series "Wanted: Dead or Alive."

"Truce," starring Buck Taylor and Michaela Lange, won the award for outstanding theatrical motion picture. "Broken Trail," starring Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church, won the award for outstanding television feature film.

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Bill Moyers Returns To PBS, Examining Role Of Press In Buildup To War

Like a definitive, clarifying exclamation point coming after a week of hit-or-miss documentaries in the "America at a Crossroads" series, "Bill Moyers' Journal" (CPTV, 9 p.m.) returns to public television after a 13-year absence with a devastating look at press failures in the run-up to the war in Iraq.The shameful ground has been covered elsewhere, in the "Frontline" series "News War" and in books such as Frank Rich's "The Greatest Story Ever Sold." But Moyers has a way of zeroing in on his topic and getting to its essence.
His authority allows him to get former CBS colleagues Dan Rather and Bob Simon to speak candidly about their pre-war reports. (Rather was caught up in the post-9/11 fervor; Simon said he could only comment on the selling of the war as a lighter piece on "60 Minutes.")Later, Moyers asks young pundits like Peter Beinart of The New Republic what gave them credibility as outspoken early supporters of war."Had you been to Iraq?" Moyers asks him. Moyers breaks real news when he has Phil Donahue reveal that his bosses at MSNBC insisted on two pro-war spokesmen on his show for every one against it.There are bright spots, as in a couple of reporters from McClatchy (formerly Knight-Ridder) who were virtually alone in questioning the war. But their scoops were generally ignored because their reports weren't carried in Washington.Moyers' return is reassuring after the meddling of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and its "America at a Crossroads" series. He is the strong, independent voice he has always been, surviving the witch hunt that ended with CPB chief Kenneth Y. Tomlinson's resigning in disgrace."Bill Moyers' Journal" settles into its regular time slot Friday at 9 p.m. on most PBS stations.Also On TonightAfter years of being TV's No. 1 show, "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) finally uses its muscle to attract star power and charity money with a quasi-telethon "Idol Gives Back."The unusual departure means the business of elimination is stretched to two hours as the episode shifts to a concert hosted by Ellen DeGeneres at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, with Celine Dion, Pink, Gwen Stefani, Annie Lennox, Josh Groban and others. Bono will also appear, interacting with the cast and getting them to sing one of his songs, "American Prayer."For the first time, you can call in on a Wednesday, but only to pledge money to help alleviate extreme poverty in America and Africa. Then, almost as an afterthought, someone is eliminated.It's one of the smaller mysteries on "Lost" (ABC, 10 p.m.), but Sun learns the identity of the father of her unborn child after she is examined by the suspicious Juliet.

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Chicago rolls again and puts Miami in 2-0 hole

Ben Gordon scored 27 points and Luol Deng had 26 to lead Chicago to a 107-89 victory over Miami on Tuesday night at Chicago, giving the Bulls a 2-0 lead over the defending champions in the Eastern Conference playoff series.Game 3 is Friday night at Miami."Basically, the Bulls did what they're supposed to do and protect their home court," Heat center Shaquille O'Neal said. "We have to play smarter basketball. We got to come with a lot more energy and play with a lot more effort and a lot more passion." O'Neal accused the Bulls of flopping and lashed out at referee Eddie F. Rush after Game 1, but said it was a "perfect game today" for the officials. It was anything but that for the Heat and its superstars. O'Neal and Dwyane Wade had subpar performances again after struggling through foul trouble in Game 1, finishing with 17 and 21 points, respectively. O'Neal was only six for 14 from the field with eight rebounds. Wade never really got going, making nine of 19. And both had seven turnovers. "We really can't make any excuses tonight," O'Neal said. "It was a well-played game. They just outplayed us. I had way too many turnovers."

Toronto 89, New Jersey 83 — Anthony Parker scored 26 points, Chris Bosh had 25 points and 13 rebounds and the Raptors evened their series against the Nets at one game apiece with a victory at Toronto.It was Toronto's first playoff victory since a 94-84 home win over Detroit on April 27, 2002. "We definitely turned a corner as a team tonight because we gutted it out, especially when things weren't going well," Parker said. "This was a game we had to have. We couldn't go to Jersey down 0-2. Now we've got to go to Jersey and get one." New Jersey's Bostjan Nachbar missed a three-point basket from the corner that would have tied the score with eight seconds to play. Game 3 is Friday night at New Jersey.

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Jennifer Lopez Works Hard For The Money

Jennifer Lopez will come to your party - for a price.
Russian banking tycoon Andrei Melnichenko is reportedly paying the singer-actress $2 million to perform at his wife's 30th birthday party.
International media report Lopez will receive $1.2 million for her 40 minute performance in the UK, with an additional $800,000 earmarked for expenses.
The 35-year-old Melnichenko's personal fortune is estimated near $5 billion.
In other Jennifer Lopez news, the U.S. Magazine Us has named her its Style Icon of the Year; she'll pick up her prize at a ceremony in Hollywood.

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Sanjaya sees busy future after 'Idol'

Sanjaya Malakar said Thursday he did it his way on "American Idol" and he'll take the same approach to a career that he hopes will encompass music, acting, modeling and whatever else comes his way.
The morning after Malakar was voted off Fox's hit show, the 17-year-old with the unique hairdos and hotly debated singing talent sounded tired but composed as he fielded questions during a teleconference.
Malakar, from Washington state, said he was surprised by the outpouring of support he received — "I'm just Sanjaya from Federal Way. ... I mean, it's crazy."
As for critics, he avoided letting the potshots get to him.
"It was a little hard but I try to make everything into a positive and try to learn from it," he said. "I feel like I've grown. I'm more confident because I've had this experience. ... I'm ready to go out there and do it some more."
His near future includes a scheduled appearance Monday in New York on "Live with Regis and Kelly," back home to Washington on Tuesday, the finale for "American Idol" next month and then an "Idol" concert tour with the other top 10 contestants.
Given the divided reaction to him, was he considering hiring a bodyguard as he emerges from the isolated "bubble" of "American Idol"? He's already looking into it, he said.
After that: college, with the Berklee College of Music in Boston his goal, and a wide-ranging career that will probably include performances with his sister, Shyamali, 19, who unsuccessfully auditioned for "Idol."
With his run on the show just ended, he said, "I haven't had the opportunity to get any offers but I'm sure they will come."
"I just want the full entertainment business and career, I guess," he said, searching for words and sounding at times very much like the teenager he is.
Malakar, who gave the world the "ponyhawk" hairstyle and at times left brutally erudite judge Simon Cowell at a loss for words, said he knew he was likely to be voted off this week. He performed
Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About" on Tuesday's country-themed show.
"When I saw the show on Tuesday I kind of had a feeling, and then I was in the dumps all day on Wednesday. I kind of knew," he said.
Malakar was asked if he was surprised by his staying power, especially with Cowell's increasingly harsh criticism. "I was just focusing on trying to get past each week," he replied.
He respects Cowell as "an amazing person" and learned more from him than anyone else on the show, the teenager said.
Cowell returned the compliment in his own way Thursday on "The Top of Form Oprah Winfrey Show."
"I miss him, probably in the same way as I would miss now my favorite horror movie," he said. "I don't mean that nastily, because I like horror movies. But there's a kind of like, 'I hate it, I love it.' And that's how I felt about Sanjaya."
He was a "very sweet guy, quite entertaining, but a horrible singer," Cowell said.
Malakar, who left high school early and earned his diploma through testing (the General Education Development, or GED, exam), said "American Idol" became his "junior and senior year."
Tongue-in-cheek support from the Web site and Howard Stern wasn't responsible for his staying power, Malakar said; he credits his fans.
Was he going for broke with his flashy onstage appearance?
"My philosophy was to stay true to myself and just try to put my personality out there," he said.
It's an approach he said he intends to stick with.
"My main thing that I'm going to look for when I choose endorsements and stuff like that is something I really feel strongly about, and I'm not going to do something just for money," Malakar said.
"It's not about money, it's about having an image and really putting your true self out there.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tribeca Film Festival 2007 Preview

Perhaps because it was conceived in the wake of tragedy, the Tribeca Film Festival, now in its sixth year, presents itself with a more overt and insistent air of celebration than many other film festivals worldwide (and boy, are there plenty of them). New York City is well known as a movie town, and Tribeca is the first film festival that I know of that was co-conceived and co-founded by not just a movie star but a bona-fide cinematic icon. Robert De Niro, a longtime resident of Manhattan's downtown Tribeca neighborhood, came up with the fest with producing partner Jane Rosenthal in the wake of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks on New York. But for its first few years, the fest's celebratory angle seemed more a matter of civic, rather than cinematic, pride. Which, given the circumstances, was entirely understandable, and all for the good. After all, one of De Niro's stated reasons for creating the fest was to bring an economic boost to a downtown facing potential economic impoverishment as a result of the 9/11 catastrophe.
Hence, Tribeca used its inborn Hollywood clout to get the big guns involved, figuring that premiering humungoid tentpole event movies for the fest would be a good way to bring in the paying customers and, even more important today, the corporate sponsorships that pump money into both the festival itself but the city in which it's held. The strategy worked. The Tribeca Film Festival became one of the world's best known such events almost as soon as it was announced, which put it in the awkward position of being famous before it had even established an identity.
A few years in, the identity it seemed to be establishing was one that made skeptics — at first hesitant to criticize the festival for obvious reasons — raise their voices to a modest peep. But those voices were drowned out by media outlets that got a kick out of what they considered Tribeca's anti-snob appeal. In a Sunday New York Times Arts and Leisure piece on the festival in 2004, writer Rebecca Traister, effortlessly expressing the glib philistinism that some New York media types seem to believe is the hallmark of true cosmopolitan sophistication, practically cooed in pleasure recounting the tale of festival honchos juggling the schedule of a particular screening so it would not conflict with the series finale of Friends. Traister went on to express breathless delight that one of Tribeca's offerings that year would be a feature starring The Olsen Twins.

The problem is that while glib philistines might get off on the tweaking of hardcore movie lovers, it's the latter that will wind up making the biggest and potentially most loyal part of a film festival audience. And in the years since 2004, Tribeca has been cannily paring down its blockbuster mentality and ramping up its cinephile appeal. The strategy seems to be creating an event mentality around one or two carefully chosen pictures. Last year it was the Tom Cruise actioner Mission: Impossible III that bore the burden of several days worth of hype before landing at Tribeca; United 93 took on the mantle of the more serious-minded event movie at the festival, which was entirely apt given its subject matter. This year, rather ingeniously, Spider-Man week, which culminates with the U.S. premiere of Spider-Man 3, takes Tribeca out of Manhattan and into Queens — home of much New York movie history (e.g., the storied Kaufman Astoria studios) not to mention the home borough of Spider-Man's alter-ego, Peter Parker.
Such events generate enough glitz to give an aura to the entire festival, which has an eclectic roster that encompasses many stripes of New-York-centric filmmaking (including a work by underground pioneer Ken Jacobs) as well as a healthy international inclination-although veterans of Cannes, Venice, Toronto and Sundance will spy more than a few familiar titles in the catalog. But Tribeca is emerging as a more consumer-friendly than industry-centric kind of fest, which is all to the good. More and more, I see it attracting an emerging, as yet unidentified, type of festivalgoer: young New Yorkers with a healthy sense of adventure who aren't necessarily full-time film nuts, but who are eager to take full advantage of yet another New York cultural perk. And by the same token, Tribeca does feature enough putatively mainstream fare to take the pressure to be more populist off of the stalwart New York Film Festival, which is frequently attacked by those of Traister's ilk for, you know, showing too many movies that have subtitles and so on. So while Tribeca's identity is still not entirely fixed, maybe that's a good thing; in its current state, it's providing a lot to cheer on.

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Sen. Harry Reid Is Right About Iraq War

Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., caused a ruckus in Washington by saying that there is no military solution to the Iraq War. That it's over and it's time to get out.
"I believe myself that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense — and you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows — that this war is lost, and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," Reid said.
Republicans were quick to pounce, calling the Democratic leader unpatriotic and unsupportive of our troops, 3,300 of whom have died fighting this debacle.
What Reid said is 100 percent true, and he is not alone. For example, conservative columnist William F. Buckley is also on record saying that the war "has failed." It's no secret that Iraq has been torn apart and gutted as a result of the Unites States' March 2003 invasion. The country is mired in civil war, and the violence worsens with each passing day. Let's face it, Bush is not sending in an additional 20,000 troops because things are going well. Our soldiers are getting killed daily, the troops are forced to do longer tours of duty and our National Guardsmen are being sent back into battle before they even have a chance to unpack here at home. It's a disgrace.
Bush and his war-mongering cronies took it upon themselves to invade a sovereign nation under the guise of (a) retaliating against Sept. 11; (b) protecting America and Britain from WMD "mushroom clouds;" and then (c) building a stable democracy in the Middle East. As we now all know, there were no WMD in Iraq, there was no connection to bin Laden and al Qaeda and true, sustainable democracy is but a fantasy. Failure, failure, failure. And the insurgents have been empowered and emboldened by this failure, not weakened. And Bush's desperate "troop surge" is not going to make one bit of difference in changing Iraq's military and political landscape.
The Republicans don't like Reid and his assessment of the war. But too bad. This is not Reid's mess. This military disaster belongs 100 percent to Bush and the Republican party. This is their war. If they don't like it being called a failure, or that it is "lost," then they should demonstrate its successes and spare us the incessant partisan rhetoric. Stop regurgitating all this BS about progress and success and show it to us.

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Jessica Alba Is The New Face for Revlon

Jessica Alba is the latest Hollywood beauty to be added to Revlon's roster of glamorous and sexy ladies. Revlon announced on Friday that the curvy star will join the exclusive group of famous faces which include Academy Award Winning actress Halle Berry, Eva Mendes, and Sheryl Crow.

The "Fantastic Four" star will be featured in a global advertising campaign for the New Revlon 3D Extreme Mascara - this means Jessica Alba fans will get to see the stunning beauty in television commercials, magazines, and posters in stores. Keep a look out for the first commercial which will air in the U.S in July 2007.
Alba will also be participating in the annual Revlon Run/Walk for breast cancer in May and is also scheduled to be involved with other breast cancer initiatives with Revlon.
The new 3D Extreme Mascara gives lashes extreme fullness, curl, and length; and the product also has intensified color pigments for a dark, lush look, as well as a unique "Bold Impact" brush that is tapered to lift and separate every lash. The price for fuller, more defined lashes - $11.95.

Be on the look out for both the 3D Extreme mascara and Jessica Alba this summer - the mascara will be available in July at drugstores and mass retailers nationwide, and you can watch Jessica on the silver screen as the invisible girl in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," which premieres in June.

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David Halberstam, Author, Pulitzer Winner, Killed

David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize- winning reporter who covered the Vietnam War and the U.S. civil rights movement and then wrote a series of best-selling books, died today in a car crash in California. He was 73.
Halberstam died this morning in a collision in Menlo Park, California, south of San Francisco, San Mateo County coroner spokeswoman Michelle Ripe said in a phone interview.
Halberstam won the Pulitzer in 1964 for his coverage of the Vietnam War for the New York Times. Writing from the paper's Saigon bureau, he filed stories that contradicted the official U.S. government stance that the war was being won.
``Insofar as journalists do have an ability to change the course of governments and history, I think David was right up there,'' Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, said in an interview. ``He is one of those figures who was able to use history and literature to good effect so that he was able to incorporate his views without seeming prejudiced.''
After leaving the New York Times, Halberstam wrote at least 19 books over four decades, beginning with ``The Making of a Quagmire'' about the Vietnam War. His breakthrough book was ``The Best and the Brightest,'' a profile of the Ivy League overachievers who advised the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and were architects of the unsuccessful U.S. policy in Vietnam.
`Wrote About Anything'
``His work applied to political figures, media people and even sports figures, and that's a remarkable thing,'' said Frank McCulloch, 87, a retired newspaper and magazine editor who was in Saigon as Time bureau chief in 1963 and became a friend of Halberstam. ``He wrote about anything that interested him.''
In ``The Powers That Be,'' (1979), Halberstam told the story of four U.S. media dynasties and the families that built them: William Paley and CBS, the Grahams and the Washington Post, the Chandlers and the Los Angeles Times and Henry Luce and Time Inc.
``He became an expert on what he wrote about, and he was able to do this across a surprisingly wide spectrum of subjects,'' said Ben Bagdikian, a former assistant managing editor at the Washington Post and a Halberstam friend for more than 40 years. ``His trademark was to write with clarity, readability and authority on a wide spectrum of subjects.''
Born on April 10, 1934, in New York to a surgeon and teacher, Halberstam moved around frequently as a child, according to the Encyclopedia of World Biography. He attended high school in Yonkers, New York.
Harvard Graduate
Halberstam graduated from Harvard University in 1955 with a concentration in history and was editor of the Crimson, the school newspaper. He finished at the bottom half of his class, he said in an interview with the student newspaper two years ago.
Seymour Hersh, a writer at New Yorker magazine who also won a Pulitzer for Vietnam coverage, knew Halberstam for 38 years. He said Halberstam helped him name his book about Henry Kissinger.
``David had read a couple chapters in advance and called me up,'' Hersh recalled in a phone interview today. ``He said, I have the perfect title for you: `The Price of Power.' That was the name we used on the book. David was just one of those guys.''
Halberstam's work wasn't confined to the worlds of government and politics. He wrote about baseball in ``The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship'' and ``Summer of '49,'' and he profiled football coach Bill Belichick in ``The Education of a Coach.''
`The Reckoning'
``The Reckoning,'' published in 1986, chronicled the rise of Nissan Motor and the Japanese auto industry and the struggles of U.S. companies in a market they no longer dominated.
Halberstam died in a three-car collision this morning, Nicole Acker, a spokeswoman for Menlo Park police, said in an interview. Acker said Halberstam was in the passenger seat of a car that was sideswiped.
New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger said ``the world has lost one of the greatest journalists. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family,'' he said in a statement released through company spokeswoman Catherine Mathis.
``He was an individual of great charm,'' Bagdikian said. ``The impact of his passing will be very great, not just among journalists but among people in public life.''

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High hopes always ended in despair

Like Russia itself, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was complex and enigmatic -- an unpredictable riddle of a politician.
The country's first freely elected leader in 1,000 years overthrew Communism and supervised the destruction of the Soviet Union. He established peaceful relations with the West and transformed Russia by introducing private property, free-market economics and new political and social freedoms.
But the hulking bear of a man who won the adulation of Russians by attacking communist privilege also left a legacy of shattered hopes and half-fulfilled economic reforms that nearly bankrupted the country and subjected its once-egalitarian society to searing social, economic and ethnic divisions.
History will always remember Mr. Yeltsin for that day in August, 1991, when he clambered atop a tank in Moscow and stared down a hard-line Communist coup.
Two years later, the impulsive "hero of democracy" shelled a mutinous parliament into submission.
In 1994, he launched a war in Chechnya that still haunts Russia and has killed more Russians than at any time since Stalin's purges.
When he retired, six months early, on New Year's Eve, 1999, Mr. Yeltsin did not turn power over to a democrat dedicated to deepening and strengthening his reforms. He tapped a veteran of the old Soviet security apparatus who steadily reversed many of Russia's democratic gains and fostered a new authoritarianism.
Throughout his tumultuous career, Mr. Yeltsin often appeared to be a peasant who acted like a czar.
His drunkenness and ill health frequently left the nation leaderless at critical moments.
His erratic behaviour -- whether pinching a female secretary's bottom during a diplomatic reception or threatening the West with an unsteady hand on Russia's nuclear trigger -- seemed to mirror his country's suddenly diminished superpower status.
Throughout his career, Mr. Yeltsin shrugged off rumours of heavy drinking, though he frequently needed physical support when he appeared in public and often slurred his speeches.
On a visit to Italy to meet the Pope, he delivered a formal toast at a banquet in which he leeringly pledged his "boundless love for Italian women."
And after a well-lubricated tour of the United States, he was unable to leave his plane to receive an official welcome from the Irish prime minister during a stopover.
Mr. Yeltsin was perplexing and contradictory. He always held out the hope of change and he almost always disappointed.
A sworn enemy of old Soviet-era politicians, he gradually alienated other significant sectors of Russia's political spectrum.
The former provincial Communist leader had lost faith in socialism, but introduced reforms that raped the economy, triggering hyperinflation, soaring unemployment and a collapse of industrial output.
He generously lined the pockets of supporters and close aides and created a class of privileged oligarchs who plundered Russia's resources.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who first elevated Mr. Yeltsin to public prominence in 1985 by bringing him to Moscow to reform the party's hierarchy, said yesterday he felt Mr. Yeltsin "had a tragic destiny."
"He was responsible for great deeds to the benefit of the country -- and serious mistakes," he told the Interfax news agency.
An advocate of rapid reform whose populist touch outshone Mr. Gorbachev's own policies of perestroika and glasnost, Mr. Yeltsin frequently clashed with his boss and publicly criticized his policies.
When they finally fell out, Mr. Yeltsin was ousted from the party leadership in 1987 and expelled from the politburo in 1988.
He quit the Communist party in 1990, after being elected speaker of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian republic in the old Soviet Union.
Carefully cultivating his image as a reformer who could rally ordinary people, he became the first elected president of the Russian Federation on June 12, 1991.
Two months later, he found himself dealing with the coup attempt.
Afterward, he banned the Communist party, confiscated its property and turned his leadership of Russia's reform movement into a democratic revolution in which he joined the leaders of Ukraine and Belarus in creating the Commonwealth of Independent States.
In the chaotic transition that followed, his personal failings as a leader aggravated Russia's political and economic turmoil.
He sought to give the country a dose of "shock therapy" but too often he left the details to advisors.
As a result, Russia endured its worst economic crisis in decades. Tens of thousands of people saw their life savings disappear, dozens of the country's banks collapsed, corruption and crime ran rampant, and neo-fascist groups surged in popularity.
In the fall of 1998, the economic collapse was complete when Moscow defaulted on billions of dollars of debt.
By allowing his presidency to be hijacked by corrupt "Kremlin insiders," Mr. Yeltsin createdideal conditions for Vladimir Putin's new authoritarianism.
But whenhe unexpectedly resigned tobe granted an immediate amnesty by Mr. Putin from all possible prosecution, he knew he had failed.
In his final television address to the Russian people, he pleaded for understanding.
"I ask for forgiveness for not justifying some hopes of those people who believed that at one stroke, one spurt, we could leap from the gray, stagnant, totalitarian past into the light, rich, civilized future," Mr. Yeltsin said. "I myself believed in this, that we could overcome everything in one spurt."

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Aishwarya Rai Pumps Up the Brand Bachchan Value

With the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai entering the Bachchan family-fold, the “Bachchan brand” value has now crossed the above Rs 700 crore mark.Financial analysts say and trade experts, the Bachchan brand value is worth Rs 700 crore as Bollywood mega superstar Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek Bachchan are brand ambassadors for various products.
Ash, becoming a part of the family now, could add to that value by several crores.Among the actors who endorse products, Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan are the highest paid stars who charge between Rs 4-5 crore for a single brand.Ash, who was chosen by Time magazine’s Asia edition as one of Asia’s ‘100 most influential people’, is the brand ambassador for products like L’Oreal, Nakshatra Diamonds and Lux, to name a few.Bachchan endorses products such as Reid & Taylor, ICICI Bank, Nerolac, Dabur India, Pepsi, Parker pens and Cadbury chocolates. Abhishek endorses Ford Fiesta, Omega, Radio Big 92.7 FM, Motorola, LG Home Appliances, and American Express, among others.Bachchan charges upto Rs 5 crore per ad, followed by Ash with Rs 3 crore per ad while Abhishek is not far behind. Abhishek’s brand value has recently gone up after delivering hits like Guru and Bunty Aur Babli.The three stars have their own clientele and cashing in on the marriage, L’Oreal has introduced a limited edition lipstick shade under its colour riche range, tender beige for their brand ambassador Ash. “This is the first time we have done something like this. We have never done this before,” says a L’Oreal spokesperson. The lipstick will be launched later across the country.The more the Bachchans keep the marriage details a secret, the more people are going crazy. Brands are falling over each other to get the elusive Bachchans and their new bahu together.Some of the other cricketers/ filmstars who have their own successful brands include Kajol and Ajay Devgan , M S Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Akshay Kumar to name a few.The Bachchans have a huge fan following and whatever they do, fans emulate them. The products endorsed by them will be purchased by fans, adman Prahlad Kakkar said.According to the trend today, filmstar marriages not only have entertainment value but are profitable business ventures worth several crores. The case in point being the recent Elizabeth Hurley - Arun Nayar wedding held in Jaipur, the rights of which were sold to Hello! magazine for one million pounds.But amidst all this the Bachchans are the main beneficiaries who will be laughing all the way to the bank.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

NASA releases 3-D views of sun

Scientists on Monday unveiled some of the first 3-D images of the violent electrical storms that rage within the sun’s atmosphere.
In the new images, the electrified loops and charged particles that blow from the sun’s surface seem to come to life. Besides the oohs and aahs, the results will help scientists track powerful solar eruptions and predict how they could affect Earth, similar to hurricane-tracking.
The pictures were snapped with two nearly identical observatories that orbit the sun in tandem. Called STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory), the spacecraft were launched in October 2006, but it wasn’t until the end of March that the two observatories were separated by enough distance to allow them to generate the 3-D pictures. The technique is similar to how the offset between your eyes provides you with depth perception.
Solar storm trackersIn particular, the observatories have their eyes on coronal mass ejections, which are violent eruptions that carry massive amounts of electrically charged gas called plasma from the sun’s atmosphere. Once unleashed, these plasma clouds race away from the sun at up to a million miles per hour.
Among the new images is one showing a plasma cloud lifting off the solar surface.
“Coronal mass ejections you might think of as analogous to hurricanes here on Earth,” said STEREO project scientist Michael Kaiser of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md. Meteorologists are now able to predict with much accuracy which storms on Earth will turn into hurricanes and when and where they could make landfall.
“We are trying to do the same thing with these coronal mass ejections,” Kaiser said.
The coronal mass ejections headed toward Earth are particularly tricky to track because the spacecraft “watching” them sit directly in front of the sun.
“It’s almost like somebody blowing a smoke ring at you from across the room and trying to predict how fast it’s moving,” Kaiser told “What you need is somebody on either side of the room looking at that same smoke ring and they can triangulate on it.”
That’s what STEREO’s two observatories do.
Electric weather The results could make space weather easier to predict.
For instance, as a coronal mass ejection plows through the solar system, it slams into the slower solar wind (a thin stream of plasma constantly blowing from the sun). The collision with the solar wind generates a shock that accelerates electrically charged particles in the solar wind, causing radiation storms that can disrupt sensitive electronics on satellites and cause cancer in unshielded astronauts.
“All the spacecraft up there have these micro-circuits in them, and they are very susceptible to small changes in voltage and current,” Kaiser said. “When a big electrical storm from the sun hits, you can easily get some upset spacecraft put out of commission.”
"Previous imagery did not show the front of a solar disturbance as it traveled toward Earth, so we had to make estimates of when the storm would arrive,” said one of STEREO’s principal investigators Russell Howard of the Naval Research Laboratory. “These estimates were uncertain by a day or so. With STEREO, we can track the front from the sun all the way to Earth, and forecast its arrival within a couple hours."
If scientists could figure out the when and where of solar electrical zaps, engineers could take preventive actions such as putting a spacecraft in a low power mode until storms pass.

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Luds' Look: Positive Signs Brought to Game Seven

Former Stars defenseman Craig Ludwig is a veteran of 17 NHL seasons and has played in 177 career playoff games, winning two Stanley Cups. Each morning after a Stars playoff game, Luds will post here on to take you inside the game. He will share some of what he is seeing in the match-up that is going right, what is going wrong, and some of the "games inside the game" that will play big roles in the outcome of each contest and eventually the series.
It's hard not to think anything good right now. I don't think that any of the Stars have many doubts in their minds but I think Vancouver has a lot that do. And I think you have to give them reasons to let that doubt roll by playing the same way.
The Stars were very aggressive in Game Six and it showed from the drop of the puck. Modano created a chance right away when he dropped a puck to Sydor right at the top of the slot, who let it rip. That is something we haven't seen much, especially from the opening of the game. That made a statement to me; the Stars were out to win the game and were not content to sit back: "If we lose it, it's going to be on our own terms."
Marty Turco and Roberto Luongo are in a different world right now. I know that Marty doesn't mind his team being aggressive and trying to get some goals for him. We had more intent last night. Our good players stepped up last night and Modano led the way. He can't change; he has to be that same guy in Game Seven. Modano stepped into the fight and he needs to understand that he is a huge part of the team's success when he plays that way.
When your team sees Modano and other guys like Ribeiro step out of character a little bit and pay the price, it pulls everybody along. The aggression continued throughout the game, as the Stars were not content to stand on a 1-0 lead, and that was a good sign too.
This series is so important with that first goal. You have to be aggressive but you have to be smart about it. The way Marty is playing you can take a few more higher-risk chances, but again, it's Game Seven and every mistake will be magnified. But from the drop of the puck on Monday, the Stars need to show Vancouver that they want the game more. Give them the reason to say, "Here we go again."
Dallas was in control of the contest from the beginning of the game, and they do not want to change that. The first 5 or 10 minutes of the game will be important and they will have to let that roar of the building subside and hopefully go away. They'll be all fired up, that's for sure. It's another reason to be very smart about your aggressiveness. Both teams will have a lot of energy.
The last thing you want to do is take a dumb penalty or jump into a play when it's the wrong time and they turn that into the first goal.
But there's really not a lot to change for the Stars. Dallas came out and was hitting Vancouver last night and that is key again. The entire team jumped on board and that's what the playoffs are all about. Everyone on the team needs to contribute and it is contagious. And we've seen it more and more in each game.
Another thing that has gotten lost in this entire series is how well the guys are playing in front of Marty. As good as Marty has been, the defense has been shutting down Vancouver and shutting down the right guys. Dallas has been wearing them down.
The Stars are going to have to be willing to take a punch in the head or take a slash to the ankle and be able to bite their lip and not take a dumb retaliatory penalty. Dallas has done a really good job on their power play but you can't give them a ton of chances with the man-advantage. They are due and you don't want to mess with that.
I expect more of the same in Game Seven -- a low-scoring game that may be 1-0 or 2-1 at the end. Two goals is a huge number in this series because the goalies don't give you anything. That's why the first goal is huge because it might be another hour and half before the next scoring chance comes. And it has to be the right players getting those chances too. That's what Vancouver's coach means when he talks about his veterans getting into the game. It's like the difference between Brett Hull getting a scoring chance and Craig Ludwig getting a scoring chance. Hullie might score on 1-of-5 chances on these goalies while I would not have much of a chance.
I feel good about Dallas in Game Seven, but they have to continue to play their game. Vancouver is at home and that's why you want to have the higher seed -- so that Game Seven is in your building. But on the flip side, you don't want to be down in Game Seven at home where you can start pressing, and that's why the first goal is so important.
The Stars have played like they are not afraid to lose in the last two games and they have confidence in Vancouver. It's right there for them. But they have to continue focusing on the next shift and let everything fall into place.

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El Cantante (2007)

Biopic of Hector Lavoe, one of the biggest Spanish-language singers in the 1970s, but personal tragedy and a heroin addiction left him penniless and dying from complications from AIDS.

El Cantante is the dramatic-biography of Puerto Rican salsa pioneer Hector Lavoe.

The film follows Lavoe’s (Anthony) passionate relationship with Puchi (Lopez) and his skyrocket to international fame. But even when he has it all, Lavoe is unable to escape the allure of drugs and his personal pain.

Also Known As:
The Singer
Untitled (Hector Lavoe/Nuyorican Project)
Production Status:
In Production/Awaiting Release
Drama, Musical/Performing Arts and Biopic
Running Time:
1 hr. 56 min.
Release Date:
August 1st, 2007 (limited)
MPAA Rating:
R for drug use, pervasive language and some sexuality.
Production Co.:
R-Caro Productions, Nuyorican Productions
Union Square Works
Filming Locations:
Puerto Rico
New York, New York, USA
New York City , New York, USA
Produced in:
United States

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French voters propel Segolene Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy to presidential runoff

Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy holds an advantage over his Socialist rival Segolene Royal after the two advanced to the second round of France's presidential election, narrowing the vote to a choice between the tough-talking former interior minister or the first woman with a chance of becoming the country's leader.
The race is now on for voters in the middle ground and others who deserted the left and right in favour of farmer's son and legislator Francois Bayrou, who placed third on Sunday in one of the big surprises of the campaign.
Both Sarkozy and Royal planned rallies Monday night.
It won't be a "walk in the park" for Sarkozy even though he is in a strong position heading into the runoff, said Bruno Cautres, researcher at the prestigious Institute for Political Sciences.
With nearly all votes counted, Sarkozy had 31.1 per cent, followed by Royal with 25.8 per cent and Bayrou with 18.5 per cent. Turnout was 84.6 per cent - the highest in more than 40 years and just shy of the record set in 1965.
Royal is the first woman to get this close to the helm of this major European economic, military and diplomatic power. Sarkozy would be likely to push his anxious nation toward painful change.
Either way, France will get its first president with no memory of Second World War to replace the 74-year-old Jacques Chirac, who is stepping down after 12 years.
Sunday's first round of voting shut out 10 other hopefuls, from Trotskyists to far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. Le Pen had hoped to repeat his shockingly strong showing of 2002 but instead finished a weak fourth with 10.5 per cent.
Both Sarkozy, a Hungarian immigrant's son, and Royal, a military officer's daughter who beat Socialist heavyweights to win her party's nomination, are in their 50s and have travelled long, arduous roads to get to this point.
The winner's task will be tough: France is a troubled country, still haunted by the riots by young blacks and Arabs in poor neighbourhoods in 2005.
Decades of stubbornly high unemployment, increasing competition from economies like China's, and a sense that France is losing influence in the world made this a passionate campaign. Both Royal and Sarkozy have promised to get France back on its feet - but offer starkly different paths for doing that.
Sarkozy would relax labour laws and cut taxes to invigorate the sluggish economy, while Royal would hike government spending and preserve the country's generous worker protections.
Royal, too, champions change but says it must not be brutal.
"I extend my hand to all those women and men who think, as I do, that it is not only possible but urgent to abandon a system that no longer works," she said.
The runoff offers "a clear choice between two very different paths," she said.
Outside Socialist Party headquarters in Paris, her supporters chanted "We're going to win!"
Sarkozy told cheering supporters Sunday night that by choosing him and Royal, voters "clearly marked their wish to go to the very end of the debate between two ideas of the nation, two programs for society, two value systems, two concepts of politics."
Despite his lead, the former interior minister faces a powerful "Anything But Sarkozy" push by those who call him too arrogant and explosive to run a nuclear-armed country. He once called young delinquents "scum," a remark that outraged the residents of poor neighbourhoods and has dogged him politically.
Royal, a legislator and feminist who says she makes political decisions based on what she would do for her children, shot to popularity by promising to run France differently. But she has stumbled on foreign policy. In one gaffe, she praised the Chinese during a trip to Beijing for their swift justice system.
Many voters question whether she is "presidential" enough to run France.
Sarkozy should be able to count on votes from the far right, whose champion Le Pen suffered his second-worst showing in five presidential elections.
Royal's score was the highest for a Socialist since Mitterrand in 1988. But closing the gap with Sarkozy could be a struggle in round two. Candidates to her left together scored about 11 per cent. They immediately swung behind her after their elimination, but their votes alone will not be enough to put Royal in power.
For that, she needs Bayrou. Sarkozy and Royal scoffed at Bayrou as unrealistic throughout the monthslong campaign, saying he would be incapable of forming a government with ministers on the left and right, or gain a parliamentary majority. Now his supporters hold the key to victory.
"French politics has changed as of tonight and will never again be the same ...," Bayrou said Sunday night after results were announced.
With results for the nearly one million French voters registered abroad still trickling in early Monday, turnout fell just short of the record of 84.8 per cent for a first round, set in 1965. That year, modern France held its first direct presidential election, with Second World War Gen. Charles de Gaulle and Socialist Francois Mitterrand reaching the runoff that de Gaulle went on to win.

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Iran warns women over dress

Iran has issued more than a thousand warnings and arrested dozens in a new drive aimed at forcing women whose dress is deemed inappropriate to adhere to Islamic dress rules, officials said Sunday.
The nationwide drive -- an annual pre-summer crackdown given greater prominence this year -- is aimed primarily at women whose coats are seen as too tight, trousers excessively short or hejabs (headscarves) overly loose.
It foresees handing out warnings and guidance to women found to have infringed its dress code in public. Those who show resistance to change can be arrested and then be the subject of legal proceedings.
"Since the plan started at 10:00 am on Saturday, 1,347 women have been warned and given Islamic guidance," the head of information at Tehran city's police force, Mehdi Ahmadi, told AFP.
"There were 170 arrests. Of these, 58 were released after making a written commitment and rectifying their appearance. The cases of the rest, who already had a record, were handed over to the judiciary," he said.

Iranian newspapers printed pictures of women in tight and colourful clothing being given warnings on Tehran's streets by female police officers dressed in chadors as the crackdown got underway on Saturday.
Twenty shops selling inappropriate clothing were also closed down, Ahmadi said.
The programme was aimed at "improving the security of society with an approach of moral security," he added.
"Its duration depends on when society feels that there are no longer signs of short trousers, tight mantos (coats), tight clothing and very skimpy hejabs."
The authorities have argued the "bad hejab" drive is aimed at encouraging women to dress in line with Islamic dress code and it appeared the emphasis is more on handing out warnings than detaining offenders.

Conservatives have applauded the new crackdown as necessary to preserve public morals as women in Tehran increasingly push the boundaries over what is permissible to wear in public.
When the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in June 2005 there were expectations that the authorities would clamp down firmly on women's dress in public.
However the situation has not changed and past attempts to bring women into line have petered out after a few weeks.
An editorial in the hardline daily Kayhan said that police were right to ignore the wishes of those who favoured a more softly-softly approach.
"Do not worry, the people support you (the police). The man who sees the robbers of his family's chastity laughing in his face, the family that despairs over the drug addiction of their child... they are with you," it said.
Women in Iran are obliged by law to wear the hejab and a full length overcoat that covers all bodily contours. Visiting foreigners and religious minorities are not exempted.
Mohammad Taghi Rahbar, a member of the culture committee of the Iranian parliament, was quoted by the Etemad newspaper as saying a harder line towards female dress was long overdue.
"The current situation is shameful for an Islamic government. A man who sees these models on the streets will pay no attention to his wife at home, destroying the foundation of the family," he warned.
The Tehran police spokesman warned that men were not exempt from the crackdown.
Ahmadi said officers would also target men sporting clothes deemed too tight or hairstyles deemed too extravagant.

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Are James Blunt and Paris Hilton an item?

who is believed to be dating Desperate Housewives actor Josh Henderson - partied with the You're Beautiful singer at Los Angeles nightclub Teddy's.
The pair were joined by Paris' younger sister Nicky and her boyfriend David Katzenberg.
A source told the New York Post newspaper: "Paris and James danced and held hands. Then they started to make out."
However, Blunt's representative has denied the claims, saying: "This sounds like gossip to me!"
The British singer recently split from his model fiancee Petra Nemcova.
Paris, 26, is due in court on May 4 charged with violating the terms of her probation for a previous reckless driving charge by driving with a suspended licence.
If convicted she faces up to 90 days in jail.

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