Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fox New politics set is just a bit too dark.

Media: Fox New may want to lighten up the set.

Belarus Editor Jailed for Islam Cartoon.

World: As the Mohammed cartoons keep on exposing those who aren't too keen on press freedoms. Garry Trudeau probably say the guy the deserved it.

A Belarus court sentenced a newspaper editor Friday to three years in prison for reprinting a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked worldwide riots when it was initially published in a Danish newspaper.

In Vienna, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe protested the sentence and called for the release of Alexander Sdvizhkov, the former deputy editor of the small-circulation Zhoda newspaper.

Security officers in Belarus launched an investigation of Sdvizhkov in February 2006 when he published the caricatures which had originally appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Fiery protests swept across Muslim countries in early 2006 in reaction to the Danish publication.

President Alexander Lukashenko ordered the paper shut the following month, calling the publication of the cartoon "a provocation against the state." Sdvizhkov was arrested and charged with "inciting religious hatred" in November 2007 when he returned to Belarus following several months of living in Russia and Ukraine.

The Minsk City Court imposed its sentence Friday after a closed-door trial. Sdvizhkov said he would appeal.

Belarusian Islamic leader Ismail Voronovich called the sentence excessively harsh.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Germany sends violent teen to Siberia.

Crime: Never knew someone would actually go ahead with this threat.

German authorities have sent a violent 16-year-old youth to Siberia in the hope that a tough, strange environment will help improve his behaviour.

For nine months the boy is sharing a small house with a Russian-speaking guardian in the isolated village of Sedelnikovo, German media report.

The boy has to chop firewood, use an outdoor toilet and fetch water for washing, sometimes in freezing cold.

The boy, from the state of Hessen, is reported to have gone "willingly".

The head of youth and social affairs in the central German town of Giessen, Stefan Becker, said it was "not a punishment, but an educational measure".

He said the idea was to remove the boy "from the stimuli of consumer culture" in Germany.

"The conditions are like what we had here 30 or 40 years ago," he said.

The village lies north of the western Siberian city of Omsk.

The boy is already more than half-way through his nine-month stay, but news of his experience only surfaced this week.

The accommodation in Siberia is reported to be costing the state 150 euros (£112; $220) daily - about one-third of the cost of a place in a German institution for juveniles.

According to a German organisation representing youth help groups, AGJ, some 600 German young offenders were sent abroad on special education programmes in 2006.

In related news.

MOSCOW (AFP) — Expected temperatures of as low as minus 55 degrees Celsius (minus 67 degrees Fahrenheit) in Siberia prompted weather warnings from Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry on Wednesday.

The ministry warned the unusually cold weather could kill, cause frost-bite, cut electricity to homes, disrupt transport, increase the rate of car accidents and even destroy buildings across Siberia.

In a statement, the ministry ordered regional departments to be on high alert and to contact local administration officials to prepare for the extreme chill expected to last until January 21.

Race row over Brazil fashion week

Culture: The modeling world is being looked at as black models are not getting much work within the Brazilian fashion world.

And outside the landmark Bienal building - where Sao Paulo Fashion Week is being staged - young black models voiced their frustration.

"I think the business is smaller for black girls," says 19-year-old Rafaela Favero. "But I don't know if it is because we are just black - but we are different, our pattern of beauty is different - our hair and our bodies."

"In a fashion show it is practically impossible," says 24-year-old Rafael Milagres.

"You have to have luck, and someone that suggests your name. Because nowadays to do a fashion show you have to be in an agency with a majority of white people, as is the case with most agencies in Brazil, while just 2% of models are black."

The owner of one agency that promotes the work of black models says slavery may have been abolished long ago in Brazil but the shadow is lengthy.

"It is like abolition never existed. It is a facade and the history continues," Helder Dias told the BBC News website.

"The black models can't get jobs and have no access, don't have a good distribution of money or earnings and live in a sub-world, because there are no job opportunities."

A quick background on where blacks stand in Brazil here.

Black voters see new generation gap

Politics: There is something really misleading about this.

When civil rights elders signed on to support Hillary Rodham Clinton's run for president, it was seen as a coup in the competition for the black vote, especially in the Deep South.

Yet many younger black voters seem to be shrugging off the sway of leaders such as Rep. John Lewis and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, siding instead with Barack Obama's history-making bid to be the nation's first black president.

It's a generational struggle that should serve as a warning to Democrats as they head into primary contests in states with large black populations: The black vote today is anything but monolithic.

I don't consider young black voters going from one democrat to the next younger democrat as "anything but monolithic" Not being mono would be voting Republican or even independent. Just because they are going for Obama only means the old black leaders are being pushed aside for new younger black leaders who pull the same old demagoguery crap.

Younger blacks don't share the same loyalties. And some lump older black leaders with the political establishment they say Obama is aiming to upend.

One civil rights veteran who is backing Obama shares that view. Joseph Lowery, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, calls colleagues who are supporting Clinton "good old boys."

"They are business-as-usual, old-guard politicians and it's hard for them to break out of that mold," Lowery said.

At a speech Wednesday before the Hungry Club at the Butler Street YMCA in Atlanta, Lowery said blacks who doubt Obama's ability to compete are guilty of "a slave mentality."

"No matter how much education they have, they never graduated from the slave mentality," Lowery said. "The slavery mentality compels us to say, 'We can't win, we can't do.'"

I rest my case. You moving from one side of the shallow pool to the other side, when I see black voting numbers start to peel off from the dems to repubs or even third parties then you know people are brave enough to go into the deep end.

Turkey to become an Islamist nation?

World: First you have the move by the Prime Minister to get rid of the headscarf ban and now trying to stack the courts with their own judges

JJ Abrams' Star Trek movie teaser already up.

Entertainment: Its a bootleg but good quality.

For a teaser it works well.


another link if the video above goes down

Ad: 'Hillary Clinton does not respect our people'

Politics: Hey Clintons, welcome to the crap Republicans/Conservatives have had to put up with for decades.

The radio ad aired by one of Obama's labor allies re-injects ethnicity into the Democratic primary contest in sharp terms.

"Hillary Clinton does not respect our people," the ad says in Spanish (original and Clinton campaign translation after the jump), referring to the lawsuit that failed today to shut down special caucus sites on Las Vegas' strip. "Hillary Clinton is shameless."

"Sen. Obama is defending our right to vote. Sen. Obama wants our votes. He respects our votes, our community, and our people. Sen. Obama’s campaign slogan is 'Si Se Puede.' Vote for a president who respects us, and who respects our right to vote," the ad says, according to a transcript provided by the Clinton campaign and confirmed in part by a union official.

On a conference call arranged by the Clinton campaign, two of her supporters denounced the spot and demanded that Obama distance himself from it. They also said the Clinton campaign had no involvement in the lawsuit, which was filed by Clinton supporters and defended by Bill Clinton.

"It’s pathetic and it's sad and it's unfortunate that they have to stoop so low," said Dolores Huerta, a longtime Hispanic labor leader who supports Clinton. She said she had never met Obama in her years of working on Hispanic causes, and suggested the ad was prompted by his lack of Hispanic support.

"I have yet to find even one worker — a Latino worker — who is supporting Barack Obama," she said.

McDonald's Pulls Ads From Florida Report Cards

Education: Pretty pathetic one whiny parent and some other busy body boston group made a worthwhile effort go to the wayside.

A McDonald's promotion that promised free Happy Meals to Seminole County students with good grades and attendance has been stopped, amid complaints from a Boston-based child advocacy group.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood demanded McDonald's stop advertising on Seminole County School District report card jackets last month, after a parent complained when her child brought home a good report card and wanted a free Happy Meal.

Susan Pagan told her 9-year-old daughter, ''Our family does not eat at fast food chains,'' Pagan said. ''And, now I'm the bad guy.''

''This is a good day for parents and children in Seminole County and anyone who believes that corporations should not prey on children in schools,'' Susan Linn, the co-founder and director of the campaign, said in a news release. ''We are pleased that McDonald's is listening to parents all over the country who believe that report cards should not be commercialized.

The phone for Seminole County Public Schools rang unanswered Thursday evening.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Breaking: Director's Guild reaches agreement with Producers.

Entertainment: Now the pressure moves over to the WGA to get something done.

The DGA has accomplished in six days what the WGA hasn't in six months: secured a deal from studio reps the guild says it can take to its members.

Whether WGA brass will feel similarly positive about the terms the DGA secured is another matter. But on Thursday, the directors announced a new three-year tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers that would deliver:

-- Increases in wages and residual bases for each year of the contract.

-- DGA jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet.

-- New residuals formula for paid Internet downloads (electronic sell-through) that essentially doubles the rate currently paid by employers.

-- Residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet.

Key new-media provisions appear substantial.

The agreement more than doubles the current residual on downloads of TV programming and boosts film residuals on downloads by 80%, officials said. A roughly $600 payment for ad-supported streaming kicks in after the first 17 days of streaming, followed by additional payments after 26 weeks totaling $1,200 for a year's worth of streaming.

"Two words describe this agreement -- groundbreaking and substantial," said Gil Cates, chair of the DGA's Negotiations Committee, in announcing the terms of the agreement. "The gains in this contract for directors and their teams are extraordinary -- and there are no rollbacks of any kind."

Showrunners like what they see from this deal.

Now, the spotlight is on TV's showrunners.
The writer-producers behind primetime's scripted fare were looking closely Thursday at the DGA's new deal with congloms -- and many liked what they saw. Some are even quietly hoping that part of the 2007-08 season can be saved and that even some of pilot season might be salvaged.

It's a long way from the DGA deal to the Writers Guild/AMPTP negotiating table, but there's a strong sense among several showrunners that scribe leaders such as WGA West prexy Patric Verrone and chief negotiator David Young will feel the pressure to use the Directors Guild of America template as a means of getting talks restarted. Insisting on conversations about issues such as reality or animation would be, as one showrunner put it, "a disaster."

Another scribe said if the early consensus holds that the DGA made a decent deal, WGA leadership may have to go ahead and give up side issues such as reality and focus on modifying the DGA deal.

Muslim Councillor tell white man: 'Shut Up, Minority'

EU: Rotterdam is close to being a minority-majority city and it seems this guy pushed just the right buttons to have one of the Muslim members to expose her stupidity as a public official.

Labour (PvdA) politician Bouchra Ismaili has reviled a citizen of Rotterdam in an e-mail. The man was told that as a member of the white minority in his district, he should not complain about the Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Ismaili, who has Moroccan nationality, is a council member for PvdA in the Rotterdam district council of Charlois. "You are the immigrants here!!!", she wrote to the white man who drew her attention by e-mail to statements by the controversial Muslim organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir. Ismali also wrote in her e-mail reply to the man: 'Drop dead,' and 'convert to Islam,' Algemeen Dagblad reported yesterday.

Ismaili has had her knuckles rapped by vice-party leader of the PvdA district council party in Charlois, Marco van Dijck. But he has not asked her to resign from the council.

Ismaili says she sent the e-mail in a burst of anger. "I do not want to justify it, but as a Muslim politician, I have for years been harassed by mail from extreme right figures. Normally speaking, I throw them away unread. When I saw the mail at home, something broke in me. All the more because I had heard someone that day say that all Moroccans should be dead. For me, this was the last straw."

Jos Parbleu, the man that received the e-mail from Ismaili, sent hundreds of local politicians an e-mail with statements by Okay Pala of Hizb ut-Tahrir. He is concerned about the rise of this movement, which is monitored by the AIVD secret service. The e-mail from Ismaili that he got back "shows the frightfully disastrous situation in which our country has landed!", he said in the newspaper.

This doesn't bode well for social cohension does it? The guy sounds like a harmless gadfly who was legit upset by comments said by Okay Pala of Hizb ut-Tahrir who according to this site said this in an interview.

Now what exactly made Ismaili go snap? A certain Jos Parbleu had sent her two quotes from the Turkish-Dutch Okay Pala, the local leader of the radically Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir. During an interview with the newspaper De Telegraaf he had said:

"We reject freedom of speech, because we reject democracy," and "What you need is a heavy bomb attack".

So the guy sends the quote and she goes nuts. At the very least it shows she is unstable, this conservative Dutch site has the email in full and you can try to read the google translation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Celebrities customers named in files in steroid investigation.

Culture: More info from the Times Union.

The attorney for a Long Island chiropractor embroiled in a nationwide steroids case said Tuesday his client and "a handful" of his celebrity patients became known because they turned up in a file marked "VIP customers" at an Orlando pharmacy raided last year.
The Times Union reported Sunday that the names of several celebrity clients of Michael A. Diamond, who runs a family chiropractor practice in Patchogue, had surfaced in the Albany-based investigation of doctors, pharmacists and anti-aging clinics. Those celebrities include R&B singer Mary J. Blige and rap star Curtis Jackson -- also known as 50 Cent.

But Diamond is not a target in the Albany-based case. Diamond's attorney, Robert A. Macedonio of Central Islip acknowledged that Diamond is assisting state Health Department officials in their probe of a Florida doctor and a former New York Police Department officer whose South Florida anti-aging clinic was raided in November.

The case centers around an Orlando pharmacy, Signature Compounding Pharmacy, whose owners and operators are awaiting trial in Albany on felony indictments related to prescription drug charges and enterprise corruption. Dr. Gary Brandwein, a South Florida osteopath, and Anthony Forgione, a former NYPD officer who was arrested in November by New York investigators, also are awaiting trial.

Some of Diamond's patients, including Blige and Jackson, were prescribed drugs, including steroids or human growth hormone, from Brandwein, the Times Union first reported Sunday, citing confidential sources.

"We were brought up there because his name came up in files that existed in Signature's office," Macedonio said. "There was a file in Signature's office that contained the name 'VIPs.' Some were clients of Dr. Diamond and some were (from) a dentist in California."

The Times Union could not independently verify that information.

WGA Strike: The union really has no clue

Entertainment: In regards to the Grammys, this is why it was a bad idea giving waivers.

On Tuesday, the Grammy show's producers petitioned the WGA for an interim waiver, despite a guild statement declaring a waiver unlikely. Citing the Recording Academy's advocacy in union struggles for fair compensation, the American Federation of Musicians and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists expressed support for the Grammys and Cossette Productions' petition.

No decision has been made to picket the Feb. 10 show, which is scheduled to air live on CBS from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but Cossette is among the companies the union is striking.

The music-heavy show may seem an unlikely target, but "CBS is a struck company, the show has writers, and the writers are on strike," says WGA East's Sherry Goldman. (Only two of the show's 700-plus union workers are WGA members.)

If CBS is a struck company, why did you give Letterman a waiver? Just because he owns his own production company doesn't mean CBS still doesn't benefit. You also refused to picket the critics choice awards on VH1 because they had the good sense to keep that non-union. As for your waiver to the NAACP image awards, who do you think you are fooling? No way you would picket the NAACP as that would look crass.

The hypocrisy and half ass striking is catching up to the WGA.

Mexican officials upset Arizona enforcing immigration laws.

Immigration: One of the factors why illegal immigrantion is such a hot topic is the lack of respect you get from Mexico and its officials as if its their God given right to cross the border.

A delegation of nine state legislators from Sonora was in Tucson on Tuesday to say Arizona's new employer sanctions law will have a devastating effect on the Mexican state.

At a news conference, the legislators said Sonora - Arizona's southern neighbor, made up of mostly small towns - cannot handle the demand for housing, jobs and schools it will face as illegal Mexican workers here return to their hometowns without jobs or money.

...The lawmakers were to travel to Phoenix for a Wednesday breakfast meeting with Hispanic legislators.
They want to tell them how the law will affect Mexican families on both sides of the border.

"How can they pass a law like this?" asked Mexican Rep. Leticia Amparano Gamez, who represents Nogales.

"There is not one person living in Sonora who does not have a friend or relative working in Arizona," she said in Spanish.

"Mexico is not prepared for this, for the tremendous problems" it will face as more and more Mexicans working in Arizona and sending money to their families return to hometowns in Sonora without jobs, she said.

"We are one family, socially and economically," she said of the people of Sonora and Arizona.

I guess it is time for Mexican government to get off its behind and actually pass reforms to help the people there and create an viable business environment.

Liberal Maryland governor stops licenses to illegals.

Maryland: So who got to O'Malley and told him do not go this route after he came out days ago saying he wanted a two tier and they already had a system where illegals got licenses anyway? Low poll numbers didn't help his cause.

Gov. Martin O'Malley rejected a proposal yesterday to issue separate driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and legal residents, saying that Maryland should comply with a federal security law by requiring immigrants to prove they are here legally before they can drive.

The governor's decision effectively reversed a long-standing policy that made Maryland one of only seven states that allow driving privileges for illegal immigrants. It came just days after his transportation secretary had briefed lawmakers on a proposed two-tier system that would have provided some latitude.

Instead, O'Malley (D) directed his top transportation officials to comply with the federal Real ID law by devising a secure, federally recognizable license that would be accepted as identification to board planes or enter government buildings.

"We should not allow Maryland to become an island virtually alone on the East Coast" by not requiring proof of legal residence for licenses, O'Malley said last night.

If approved by the General Assembly, O'Malley's plan would take effect in 2010. Maryland would join Virginia and the District in requiring a "lawful presence" of drivers.

Stunned immigration advocates accused O'Malley of pandering in a national election year.

Bush allows Navy to sonar train, enviros go crazy.

Military: As much as I like whales, hamstringing the Navy from carrying out training duties is incredibly stupid.

While traveling in the Middle East on Tuesday, President Bush issued an exemption to the Navy from environmental laws that would otherwise limit its ability to use certain kinds of sonar used in anti-submarine warfare training, the Associated Press said. [UPDATE: I believe the Washington Post broke this story today.]

Last August, the Natural Resources Defense Council persuaded a federal judge in Los Angeles to order a stop to Navy training exercises off Southern California using medium-range sonar. The judge said that the Navy’s own assessments predicted that dozens of marine mammals, particularly deep-diving whales, could be harmed by the intense sound waves. In January, a fresh injunction was issued by the court requiring the Navy to establish a 12-nautical-mile, no-sonar zone along the coast and to post lookouts for marine mammals.

The A.P. quoted a White House memorandum as saying, “The Navy training exercises, including the use of sonar, are in the paramount interest of the United States…. This exemption will enable the Navy to train effectively and to certify carrier and expeditionary strike groups for deployment in support of worldwide operational and combat activities, which are essential to national security.”
Environmental campaigners and California officials sharply attacked the decision in a joint news release today.

“There is absolutely no justification for this,” said California Coastal Commissioner Sara Wan. “Both the court and the Coastal Commission have said that the Navy can carry out its mission as well as protect the whales. This is a slap in the face to Californians who care about the oceans.”

Please go after the Navy saying whales are more important than National Security. That will go over well with the mainstream public.

Justice League movie is cancelled by Warner for now.

Entertainment: Never had faith in it given the feeling it would have turn out to be A superhero one tree hill or something.

Warner Bros. let the options lapse on the young cast that director George Miller chose to play DC superhero staples. The studio, which had set Tuesday as its greenlight deadline for the pic, confirmed Wednesday the project is on indefinite hold.

Project now most likely won't get under way until late summer or fall at the earliest.

Cast members were informed late Tuesday their options would not be exercised, but they were also assured the studio is determined to make the film with them in it. But before that can happen, there are several problems to be resolved.

The studio's reasons included not getting the official response it needed on tax breaks from shooting in Australia. And while WB execs like the script they got from Kieran and Michele Mulroney, it would benefit from a little more work, something that isn't possible because of the writers' strike.

Euro Parliament supports kids TV controls

EU: I have this strange urge to read this story with a bad German accent.

The European Parliament on Wednesday backed demands for tight controls over the content of television programs shown at peak times for children.

At their plenary session in Brussels, the Euro-MPs called for tough regulation to ensure that broadcasters and video game manufacturers ban harmful images and content that may be seen by children. These include violent, racist or pornographic content and extend to the Internet, where sexual predators posed a more direct threat to children.

The parliament backed a report drafted by Italian Euro-MP Roberta Angelilli, which called for the creation of "an adequate, effective and proportionate regulation system in dialogue with providers, the media (public and private TV companies, advertisers the press, video games, mobile telephones and the Internet) and industries, aimed, among other things, at prohibiting the broadcasting of harmful images and contents (including cyber-bullying) and the marketing of violent video games."

The report calls on governments to aid parental control by providing a uniform, EU-wide labeling system for television programs. And they said authorities needed to be particularly vigilant as new technologies can give children access television programs at any time, from any computer with an Internet connection.

"Greater consideration is needed to review the mass media's unrestricted right of access to children and the right of the child to access the mass media without restriction," the report said.

Europeans will live in a child-proof state and like it.

Death of the big V-8 engine.

Nation: Respect the V-8!

The V-8 engine, long a symbol of power for American car companies, is sputtering.

At the Detroit auto show this week, Detroit’s Big Three are promoting smaller engines and alternative-fuel vehicles, eliminating the V-8 from many models and relegating it to niche status.

Ford Motor, which first popularized the V-8 in the 1930s, will start using a turbocharged 6-cylinder in many vehicles, including the next generation of its Explorer sport utility vehicle. The company has named its new engine technology EcoBoost, a nod to consumers’ concern for the environment.

“It’s pretty clear that the V-8 is on its way out of the mainstream,” said Ford’s chairman, William Clay Ford Jr.

General Motors recently canceled a $300 million program to develop a new V-8, citing new fuel-economy standards that require a 40 percent improvement in overall gas mileage by 2020. “That cancellation was a direct result of the 35-mile-per-gallon legislation,” Robert A. Lutz, G.M.’s vice chairman, said Tuesday.

Thanks congress! Good job taking out yet another American icon.

NYTIMES writer decries return of the macho 80's.

Culture: Chuck Norris, Hulk Hogan and the return of Rambo signals to this writer that some men are so insecure they want to go into a comfort zone.

The leading action symbols of the Reagan era — with all their excess, jingoism and good vs. evil bombast — have returned, as outsize and obvious as they were in the decade of stonewash. Yet as stars of prime-time hits and feature films (not to mention Republican mascots), these actors are still as ripped and imposing as they were 20 years ago, and they continue to carry an undeniable authority with fans old and new.

Indeed, at a time when the country is faced with a new tangle of problems, the return of the ’80s action hero suggests that some Americans, particularly men, are looking to revel in the vestigial pleasures of older times and seemingly simpler ways. (Witness the popularity of the best-selling “Dangerous Book for Boys,” a celebration of the traditional rugged joys of boyhood.)

.....But Mr. Koops, speaking on Tuesday, New Hampshire primary day, said the appetite for these action figures represents more than a joke. Rather, it speaks to a sincere desire among some men — likely not Hillary Clinton supporters — to return to what he called “a comfort zone” symbolized by heroic characters of yore.

“Everyone is talking about change” in the political sphere, he said, but many guys in fact “want to go back to the way things were, the things they knew.”

This is a moment in American history bedeviled by a sinking economy, the possibility of environmental catastrophe and violent conflicts in the Middle East and beyond. So it’s not surprising to see men who were raised on cartoonish images of the fictional John Rambo taking out more Soviet soldiers in two hours than the Afghan mujahedeen did in a decade show an appetite for characters who tend to fix even big problems with room-clearing brawls, monosyllabic wisecracks and large-caliber firearms.

Anxious Americans, after all, are suddenly very unsure of their position in the world, which leaves some open to any “fantasy having to do with a sense of traditional masculinity,” said Judith Halberstam, a professor of English and gender studies at the University of Southern California. She said that these living G.I. Joes communicate a “not-so-deep code of American exceptionalism,” as well as the American instinct to cut through obfuscation with plain talk and “to not bother with politics, just go in with force and fix things.”

Or it could be that people remember when talk was cheap and action spoke louder than words. Don't sit there and whine about it, just make it work or fix it. NO handwringing or do I or don't I which I think is a goal almost everyone would want to be able to do. It means be a leader.

Johnny Depp gives $2 million to hospital that saved

UK:..his daughter's life. The storytelling as Captain Jack to the kids must have been awesome for them.

Johnny Depp secretly visited Great Ormond Street Hospital yesterday to donate £1 million of his own money to thank staff for saving his daughter's life.

He arrived unexpectedly at the London children's hospital where eight-year-old Lily-Rose was treated last year when her kidneys failed.

Last week he invited five Great Ormond Street doctors and nurses to the party for the London premiere of his film Sweeney Todd.

And on November 29, unknown to the public, Depp spent four hours at the hospital telling bedtime stories to patients dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow after having his Pirates Of The Caribbean costume flown over from Los Angeles.

WGA Strike: Even more producers let go.

Entertainment: As Hollywood companies take this strike to get rid of bad deals.

More names of writers and producers whose overall deals were terminated in the Monday sweeping force majeure action by four major TV studios have surfaced.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker John Singleton and comedy writer-producers Jhoni Marchinko ("Men in Trees") and Kirk Rudell ("Will & Grace") were let go of their overall pacts at Warner Bros. TV.

Writer-producers John Eisendrath, Kevin Abbott and Mark Hudis lost their overall deals at 20th Century Fox TV Studio, while the comedy writing duo of Dave Finkel and Brett Baer were dropped by Universal Media Studios.

Overall, 45-50 writers and producers lost their overall deals Monday when WBTV, CBS Paramount Network TV, Universal Media Studios and 20th Century Fox TV sent out termination letters, evoking the force majeure clause in the deals.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Michelle Obama needs to cut the crap.

Politics: This isn't Def Jam Politics and you are talking to a bunch of illiterates. This sort of comment is the worst sort of stereotyping.

In what seems to have been another misjudged remark, Obama's wife, Michelle, campaigning for him in South Carolina, also brought up race. Addressing African-Americans sceptical about his ability to win, she said Iowa, which is predominantly white, voted for Obama. "Ain't no black people in Iowa," she said.

The language could alienate some white voters and the comment is also wrong: there are 75,000 African-Americans in Iowa.

Of course AP skips the part that this sort of dropout slang could also alienate black people who think of themselves a helluva lot more decent than to have anyone especially Obama's wife talk in such a way.

Web site declares al-Qaeda's founding in UK

UK: This just makes it official.

Britain's intelligence services are investigating an Islamist Web site that says it is establishing a branch of al Qaeda in Britain, BBC television reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, security experts fear a posting on the site,, declaring "the creation of the al Qaeda organization in Britain" may be genuine.

"You don't ignore this sort of thing," Pauline Neville-Jones, the former head of the British joint intelligence committee, told the program.

"It may not be a threat from an existing cell... but it does represent a move in the propaganda game and the propaganda game is not something we should ignore. This is after all a struggle over ideology."

The posting urges young Muslim men to rise up against infidels such as "(Prime Minister Gordon) Brown and (Tony) Blair". It was put up on January 2.

NBC to remake Top Gear.

Entertainment: They would have to strike gold on every casting choice and segment to come halfway as close to the greatness of the original.

By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The popular BBC car show "Top Gear" is revving up a U.S. edition.

NBC has ordered a pilot for "Gear," which will be announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (January 19-27). Casting is under way for hosts. As with the BBC version, it will offer a mix of cars, humor and celebrities.

The pilot will be filmed at a secret location around Los Angeles equipped with a race track and hangar where the show will be filmed in front of a audience.

NBC reality chief Craig Plestis said the network already is getting numerous inquiries from car companies that had heard rumblings about a U.S. remake.

"This is a favorite of all automobile companies as it shows their cars in such a great light," he said.

"Top Gear," which airs on BBC 2, originally launched in 1977 but has gained wider popularity since its relaunch in 2002.

Among "Gear's" popular segments that will be replicated in the U.S. are races where the hosts have to reach a destination using different modes of transportation, road tests, challenges like converting and refurbishing existing cars into anything from a stretch limo to an amphibian and celebrities racing a midsize car. ("American Idol's" Simon Cowell holds the record for fastest lap time with a Chevrolet Lacetti.)

The U.K. show is hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and also features the Stig, a masked test driver. The U.S. version also will feature a quartet of presenters, including a secret test driver.

The BBC originally mulled doing an American version with the original British hosts, but the idea fell through in the summer, mostly over Clarkson's unwillingness to spend extended periods of time away from his family as well as the show's growing ratings success in Britain.

UK: Muslim worker refuses to sell "Unclean" Bible.

UK: Hot Air has the cut of meat, I got my herd of cows.

A MUSLIM store worker refused to serve a customer buying a children’s book on Christianity because she said it was “unclean”.

Shopper Sally Friday felt publicly humiliated at a branch of Marks & Spencer when she tried to pay for First Bible Stories as a gift for her young grandson.

When she put the book on the check-out counter, the young assistant refused to touch it, declared it was unclean and summoned another member of staff to serve instead.

Mrs Friday said she was so upset that she has now complained to the store’s management.

Last night politicians and religious leaders supported her in condemning the high street giant and reigniting the debate over religious beliefs in the workplace.

Conservative MP Philip Davies said the refusal to serve Mrs Friday, 69, was “unacceptable” and “damaging” to community relations.

Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, described the assistant’s comments as “offensive” and called for Marks & Spencer to carry out a thorough investigation.

Mrs Friday said her trip to the sales in Reading, Berks, with her daughter had been ruined.

“I went to the till and heard the girl say it was unclean and then she got someone else to serve me,” said Mrs Friday.

“At first I wasn’t sure what was going on and then I realised she was wearing a headdress and I clicked that the title of the book had Bible in it. I felt very humiliated and immediately left the store."

Sounds like fundie with the wrong job.

Obama tells everyone to chill out about race.

Politics: So is this sincere move on his part or the he takes the high road while his surrogates do the dirty work?

RENO, Nev. – As he campaigned in northern Nevada on Monday, Senator Barack Obama said he was concerned that a heated discussion of racial issues in the presidential campaign could divide the Democratic Party.

“I don’t want the campaign at this stage to degenerate into so much tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, that we lose sight of why all of us are doing this,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a news conference here. “We’ve got too much at stake at this time in our history to be engaging in this kind of silliness. I expect that other campaigns feel the same way.”

Mr. Obama was seeking to be seen as taking the high road in the ongoing feud between his campaign and that of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. First, he conducted three back-to-back interviews with the major television networks here. Then, he hastily called a news conference at the Reno Events Center.

After speaking to hundreds of Nevada voters at a rally here, Mr. Obama urged Democratic voters not to become embroiled in racially-charged or motivated discussions.

“If I hear my own supporters engaging in talk that I think is ungenerous or misleading or in some way is unfair, I will speak out forcefully against it,” he said. “I hope the other campaigns take the same approach.”

On a day that initially was devoted to speaking about the economy, he held a nine-minute news conference. Before taking questions, Mr. Obama mentioned his rivals by name and praised them.

“I think that I may disagree with Senator Clinton or Senator Edwards on how to get there, but we share the same goals. We’re all Democrats,” Mr. Obama said. “We all believe in civil rights. We all believe in equal rights. We all believe that regardless of race or gender that people should have equal opportunities.”

He continued, saying: “They are good people, they are patriots. They are running because they think that they can move this country to a better place.”

Asked whether he believed either Mrs. Clinton or former President Bill Clinton had shown racial insensitivity in recent days, he said: “I don’t want to rehash that. I think that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have historically and consistently been on the right side of civil rights issues. I think they care about the African-American community and that they care about all Americans and they want to see equal rights and justice in this country.”

I believe he is being sincere, other hand if he thinks the Clintons will stop or not try another angle then he is nuts.

As both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to lower the tension after days of charged rhetoric over race, a congressional supporter of Clinton's presidential bid called the Illinois senator's remarks attacking her over recent comments about President Lyndon Johnson and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “absolutely stupid.”

"How race got into this thing is because Obama said ‘race,’” New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, one of the highest-ranking African-Americans in Congress, said in an interview on NY1.

“But there is nothing that Hillary Clinton has said that baffles me. I would challenge anybody to belittle the contribution that Dr. King has made to the world, to our country, to civil rights, and the Voting Rights Act,” said Rangel. “But for him to suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid. It's absolutely dumb to infer that Doctor King, alone, passed the legislation and signed it into law."

Deval "Cadillac" Patrick wants illegals to get state tuition.

Immigration: Patrick is so hot to give tuition breaks to illegals, the kind of breaks citizens and legal residents can't get that he is willing to try and be a dictator about it.

Governor Deval Patrick says he's researching whether he can take unilateral action to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state colleges.

The revelation touched off strong reaction on Beacon Hill, where House lawmakers two years ago defied Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and defeated a bill that would let those students pay the same rate as their high school classmates.

Patrick, who has long supported the idea, says his legal team is looking into whether the change can be made without approval from the Legislature.

Supporters argue that children of illegal immigrants who have graduated from Massachusetts high schools should pay the same tuition as their classmates.

But opponents say he state shouldn't be educating undocumented students so they can take higher paying jobs from legal residents.

How I wish he would get a public response just like Spitzer did with his driver's license fiasco, but considering the state, he would get a flower parade.

Oregon's driver licenses to illegals backfires.

Immigration: I am shocked at the fraud...shocked I tell ya!

SALEM — More than 1,000 people packed the Capitol on Friday to voice their opposition to the government’s push to issue driver’s licenses only to those who can prove they’re legally in the United States.

Before they crowded into a hearing room and several overflow chambers inside, critics of the plan waved placards as Spanish-language speakers revved up a rally on the Capitol steps. The spectacle was the latest in a series of events held by immigrant-rights and Hispanic groups to demonstrate against new rules, as well as legislation introduced Friday, to limit driver’s licenses.

Kulongoski’s rules are intended to end Oregon’s status as one of seven states where “legal presence” in the United States is not a condition to be licensed. The governor has said federal authorities have found that illegal immigrants living in other states have been coming to Oregon and obtaining licenses by falsely presenting themselves as state residents. Then they’ve used their Oregon licenses to get licenses in their home states.

The illegal supporters of course want no such restrictions put in place.

The activists scored their first victory, albeit a symbolic one: The House Transportation Committee failed to muster the votes needed to introduce legislation that puts into state law the governor’s rules restricting licenses to citizens and legal residents only.

Ramon Ramirez, president of Oregon’s farm workers union, said the vote would encourage his and other immigrant- and Latino-rights groups to intensify their lobbying of the governor and the Legislature in the coming weeks.

Blizzard stops taming of the Ghost Wolf...Idiots.

Gaming: This is purely a WoW rant. But during the last patch, a quest came up where hunters could tame a ghost wolf as a pet, it was pretty hard and mostly luck with help from other players. At the time, Blizzard said they were impressed with the ingenuity of the players who within the game design mechanics were able to figure out how to tame it. That didn't last very long as they hotfix it so it can't be tamed anymore.

Through a hotfix we’ve recently removed the ability to tame a Grimtotem Spirit Guide. Players who have already gone through the trouble of taming the creature will be able to keep them unchanged. This hotfix only removes the possibility to tame this creature from here on.

The removal of the spirit guide has been debated within design discussions for a while now as to what impact the pet and its precedent has on the game.
The unintended nature of the taming, the undead status of the guide, appearance of the wolf in relation to the feel of the hunter class, and the complex processes of taming were all issues touched upon and discussed.

Ultimately the discussions brought us to the conclusion that this should not be a permanent addition to the pet selection available to hunters; however, those that have already tamed them should be allowed to keep them due to their efforts in obtaining one.

Unless it was screwing up the game, why bother fixing something that wasn't causing anyone a problem? Instead of sitting around yapping about a ghost wolf, the design team can haul their behinds over to the AV part of WoW and remake that into a fun viable battleground again. Before that how about designing some better looking animals for hunters to tame with some variations in abilities, how about fixing the leveling so it won't be such a grind if someone wants to level up a low level pet to his/her lvl 70 character.

Out of all the things you could be sitting around talking about, fixing the Ghost Wolf wasn't and should not have been anywhere near the top of the list. How about for once damn it you start listening to the people who are paying to play your game and would like to see improvments here and there. It seems too many game nerds are in charge who have forgotten about the customer.

UK's White Flight pattern getting bigger.

UK: and he backs the Bishop who claimed Muslim no-go areas.

The flight of the white middle classes from the inner cities is accelerating, the Government's race relations chief has said.

....Mr Phillips, who chairs the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the Bishop was right to raise the issue because white families were moving out of areas with high ethnic minority populations.

Interviewed on Radio Four's Today programme, he said: ''There are areas in which there is no contact or very little contact between different ethnic and cultural groups.

"Nobody is putting up walls and gates but we all know that in virtually every big city there are places where different kinds of people feel uncomfortable, whether that is Asians in so-called white areas or white people in so-called black areas."

He added: "We know that white flight is accelerating. That schools - we know this from studies done by Bristol University - are becoming more segregated than the areas they sit in. So there is a phenomenon we have to deal with and I think that the Bishop of Rochester was right to raise this."

The term "white flight" was coined in 1960s America to describe the emergence of inner city ghettos.

However, Government ministers have preferred to refer to it as ''churn" and to attribute the movement of people to house price fluctuations.

That is why the UK government is branded as being politically correct and have their head in the sand. If someone points out the the pattern they are either racist or stupid and everyone should just shut up about it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Austrian Politician accused of Islam bashing and hate speech.

Austria: What she said was vile and not to be said in polite company blah blah blah. But the correct thing to do is challenge her and fight her. Looking to see if its hate speech which could lead her to be put in jail is just making her a martyr.

A candidate campaigning for the Graz city council in Austria says it is time that Islam was "thrown back ... behind the Mediterranean," and alleges Muhammad wrote the Koran in "epileptic fits."

Susanne Winter, a right-wing politician with the FPÖ party running for a city council seat in the city of Graz, blasted Muslims on Sunday, saying that "in today's system" the Prophet Muhammad would be considered a "child molester," apparently referring to his marriage to a six-year-old child. She also said that it is time for Islam to be "thrown back where it came from, behind the Mediterranean." Not yet finished, she also claimed that Muhammad wrote the Koran in "epileptic fits."

In an interview with the daily Österreich published on Monday, Winter continued the onslaught saying that child abuse is "widespread" among Muslim men and that Graz is facing a "tsunami of Muslim immigration." In 20 or 30 years, she warned, half of Austria's population would be Muslim.

Her comments have resulted in a storm of protest in Austria, with politicians and commentators of all stripes taking Winter and her party to task. Austrian prosecutors are also looking into the possibility of filing charges against the 50-year-old politician for incitement.

Her comments, said Omar Al-Rawi, head of integration for an Austrian association of Muslims, showed "a lack of respect" and they "had no basis in fact." He told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that such Islam bashing has reached a point in Austria that "one wants to puke."

Private schools preserve apartheid-style system

UK: Or the kids are going to private schools because it is an ideal environment for them to grow and succeed in as their parent(s) want the best for their child which is not being provided by the poor running state schools. Just a shot in the dark.

Private schools are perpetuating an "apartheid" system of schooling, creaming off the most able students and leaving state schools to flounder, according to an influential independent school head who today launches an outspoken attack on his colleagues in the independent sector.

Dr Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington college in Berkshire, warns that plans to force private schools to provide more bursaries to justify their charitable status - and with it £100m in tax breaks a year - could increase the problem by siphoning off more of the most academic state school children into the private sector.

He is calling for private schools to adopt entire state schools under the government's academy programme to end the historic divide between state and private education.

Seldon, a biographer of former prime minister Tony Blair, accused independent schools of being old-fashioned in their thinking, "carrying on as we are in splendid isolation, detached from the mainstream national education system [and] thereby perpetuating the apartheid which has so dogged education and national life in Britain since the second world war".

WGA Strike: More studios fire producers via "Force majeure"

Entertainment: We are talking huge names that when the strike settles this could turn into a free-for-all to get producers back.

CBS Paramount Network TV and 20th Century Studios terminated production deals as a result of the Hollywood writers strike on Monday.

"Force majeure" -- or act of God -- provisions in the contracts allow studios to cancel deals with writers and producers idled by the strike, which is now in its third month. These deals usually involve the supply of offices and staffers on the studio lot, and can be both costly and unproductive.

CBS Paramount's list is said to include some high-profile casualties such as actor Hugh Jackman, Rene Echevarria ("Medium"), Barry Schindel ("Numbers"), John McNamara ("Fastlane"), the duo of Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green ("Skip Tracer") as well as Jennifer Levin ("Without a Trace").

At 20th TV, being let go are Paul Redford ("The Unit"), Jonathan Lisco ("K-Ville") and Lawrence Kaplow ("House").

"Production companies in the entertainment industry continue to feel the impact of the ongoing writers strike," CBS Paramount TV said in a statement. "As a result of this change in development and production activity, we have made a difficult decision to discontinue 'overall deals' with a number of writers and producers whose talents we greatly value and respect."

Warner Bros. TV and Universal Media Studios also terminated deals. Sources indicated the number of casualties at CBS Paramount and 20th TV is significantly lower than the nearly 30 that ABC Studios let go Friday, including "Brothers & Sisters" creator Jon Robin Baitz and "Borat" director Larry Charles.

Celebrities now using steroids and other growth drugs.

Nation: You would think with the feds going after sports figures and people like Marion Jones, celebrities would take a huge hint that the Feds would like nothing better than going after a well known entertainer to make a point.

The names of R&B music star Mary J. Blige, along with rap artists 50 Cent, Timbaland and Wyclef Jean, and award-winning author and producer Tyler Perry, have emerged in an Albany-based investigation of steroids trafficking that has already rocked the professional sports world, according to confidential sources.

Information has surfaced recently showing those stars are among tens of thousands of people who may have used or received prescribed shipments of steroids and injectable human growth hormone in recent years. Law enforcement officials have said they have no evidence in their sprawling multistate probe that customers, including Blige or other entertainers, violated any laws. Instead, they are targeting anti-aging clinics, doctors and pharmacists who prescribed the drugs.

Still, medical experts say that use of steroids and human growth hormone -- an estimated $10 billion-a-year operation worldwide -- reaching into the entertainment industry illustrates how pervasive steroids use in the United States has become. It is not unique to athletics, where performance-enhancing drug use has marred many sports. For many celebrities, the lure of hormonal drugs is their supposed, unproven anti-aging effects

Someone is going to be made an example.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

WGA Strike: Networks loving reality show ratings.

Entertainment: If you are a wavering writer, this NYTIMES article will scare the hell out of you.

The striking members of the Writers Guild of America may have hoped that television viewers, upset that their favorite dramas and comedies had gone dark, would disdain the chief alternative the broadcast networks had to offer: reality shows.

If they did, the results from the last two weeks have offered cold comfort.

For the moment at least, the antistrike strategy of replacing scripted entertainment with so-called reality series seems inspired. One new NBC reality entry, “American Gladiators,” has the look of an out-of-the-gate hit, something no new scripted show this season has been able to claim.

Other, established reality series, including NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and “The Apprentice,” and ABC’s “Supernanny” and “Wife Swap,” have returned to the air impressively.

Other nonscripted programs, like ABC’s new “Dance Wars,” have performed as well or better than the scripted shows they replaced. And all of this has happened before Fox’s “American Idol” makes its usual colossuslike entrance into the prime-time schedule, starting Tuesday night.

ABC will bring back its reality powerhouse “Dancing With the Stars” in March. CBS will not only return its signature reality series, “Survivor,” but next month will move its summer reality hit, “Big Brother,” into the regular television season for the first time.

The strong performance of nonscripted series has some network executives brimming with confidence about their antistrike strategy.

If you are a writer on Chuck, this will depress you.

A senior executive from a different network pointed to the performance of “American Gladiators,” emphasizing that the show finished with about 60 percent higher ratings than the drama “Chuck,” which had occupied the same time period before the strike.

“If I were a writer and I saw ratings like that for a show that costs far less than ‘Chuck,’ I’d be scared to death,” said the executive, who asked not to be further identified because the network had told its executives not to discuss publicly any issues related to the strike.

The counter argument is these shows have no staying power, but the strat for the networks and media companies is not to change to reality 24/7 forever, just that it holds up enough to break down the writers guild. This may be all moot with the DGA and everyone in Hollywood panicing about the Oscars being cancelled.

BET founder Bob Johnson slams Obama

Politics: Even dropped in an old school Sidney Poitier diss.

"....Clinton was quoted just before the New Hampshire primary as saying King's dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Some black leaders have criticized that remark as suggesting Johnson deserved more credit than the slain civil rights leader for the passage and enactment of major civil rights legislation.

While introducing Clinton at Columbia College on Sunday, Johnson criticized Obama's camp.

"That kind of campaign behavior would not be reasonable with me for a guy who says 'I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier,'" said Johnson, owner of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. He commented after Clinton said in a televised interview Sunday that she hoped the campaign would not be about race.

Johnson also said Obama's own record should give voters pause.

"To me, as an African American, I am frankly insulted the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues — when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood; I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book — when they have been involved," Johnson said.

Obama wrote about his teenage drug use — marijuana, alcohol and sometimes cocaine — in his memoir, "Dreams from My Father."

Johnson later said his comments referred to Obama's work as a community organizer in Chicago "and nothing else. Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect," he said in a statement released by Clinton's campaign.