Monday, January 30, 2012

Phil Collins

Happy Birthday. God bless.

Wilmer Valderrama, Daphne Ashbrook, Ms. Tammy Grimes, Brett Butler, Julie McCullough, Alex Hyde-White and Jake Thomas

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Ms. Dorothy Malone, Josh Kelley, Sacheen Littlefeather, Olivia Colman, Steven Zaillian, Jennifer Hale and Ms. Elsa Martinelli

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Christian Bale, Ms. Vanessa Redgrave, Mr. Gene Hackman, Charles S. Dutton and Thomas McCarthy

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Isabel Lucas

Isabel Lucas

Isabel Lucas

Isabel Lucas

Isabel Lucas

Isabel Lucas

Isabel Lucas

2012 SAG Awards


Male Actor, Lead: Jean DuJardin, The Artist

Male Actor, Supporting: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Female Actor, Lead: Viola Davis, The Help

Female Actor, Supporting: Octavia Spencer, The Help

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: The Help

Stunt Ensemble, Motion Picture: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2


Male Actor, Drama Series: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire

Female Actor, Drama Series: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story

Ensemble, Drama: Boardwalk Empire

Male Actor, Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Female Actor, Comedy Series: Betty White, Hot in Cleveland

Ensemble, Comedy Series: Modern Family

Male Actor, TV Movie or Miniseries: Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail

Female Actor, TV Movie or Miniseries: Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

Stunt Ensemble, Television Series: Game of Thrones

Lifetime Achievement Award: Mary Tyler Moore

By Jessica Pieklo

The Republican presidential candidates head into the final stretch for the Florida primary with Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich bringing out the big guns: Sarah Palin. Palin’s gone on the offensive for Gingrich, accusing the Republican establishment of “crucifying” Gingrich. Because that is exactly what Gingrich needs, another grifter to enable his Jesus complex.

Palin was out and about helping Gingrich fend off attacks from Jon Voight and Arizona Sen. John McCain. Seriously. If you needed any more indication that the race on the right is a joke with all the grown-ups on the right waiting for 2016 to jump in consider that it is Jon Voight and Sarah Palin slinging political mud.

Not to be kept out of the party, former Godfather’s pizza CEO and political punchline Herman Cain endorsed Newt Gingrich. It’s not clear how a Cain endorsement helps Gingrich. The supporters that Cain did manage to whip up before “suspending” his campaign after claims of sexual harassment and assault surfaced would naturally move to a Gingrich candidacy. After all, both men are serial woman-abusing, ethically challenged and view a presidential run as a stepping stone to higher speaking fees. The cynicism in this endorsement is thick.

Oh, and In case you were wondering, Rep. Ron Paul (TX) isn’t planning on going anywhere soon.

After she was done waggling her finger in the President’s face, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced an April 17th primary followed by a June 12 general election to replace the recently retired and much classier Rep. Gabby Giffords (D).

St. Louis, Missouri did the right thing and hosted a historic welcome home parade for Iraq Veterans. Good work, St. Louis. It would be great to see other cities around this country follow this lead. It would be even better to see Republicans push for military support in the form of adequate veterans spending rather than just push for militarization.

Maybe CNN can ask the candidates about that at the next debate.

Ukrainian Feminists

AFP - Three radical Ukrainian feminists braved the subzero chill at the Swiss ski resort of Davos on Saturday, going topless to protest against the World Economic Forum "gangsters".

The three activists arrived at the security checks at the congress hall's entrance where they undressed, revealing slogans painted across their upper bodies including "Gangster Party in Davos" and "Poor Because of You."

They also brandished signs saying "Crisis Made in Davos" and were arrested after they attempted to scale the metal fences.

The Ukrainian group called Femen, whose slogan is "We Came, We Undressed, We Conquered," specialises in eye-catching stunts in which they protest topless, using their bodies to draw attention to sexual exploitation.

Femen activists have previously protested outside the Parisian home of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

In November, one activist also managed to sneak past security to partially strip in front of the Vatican's Saint Peter's Basilica just after the pope's Sunday Angelus.

Christina Bauer

Better late than never. Belated Happy Birthday. God bless.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Elijah Wood, Magdalena Warzecha, Olga Kabo and Sarah McLachlan

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Mr. Ian Abercrombie We Salute You

Ian Abercrombie, the actor best recognized for playing Elaine Benes’ boss on Seinfeld, has died. He was 77.

Abercrombie, who did voice work on the movie Rango this year, passed away in Hollywood on Thursday. He just finished work on the animated series Green Lantern for the Cartoon Network.

Abercrombie’s career spanned more than 50 years and included roles in flicks like Young Frankenstein and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. TV gigs included playing Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld, as well as parts on Wizards of Waverly Place, Desperate Housewives, Murphy Brown and L.A. Law.

He was born in Essex, England and began his career as a stage actor.


USA Weekend Box-Office

1.Underworld: Awakening (2012)------------------- $25.3M
2.Red Tails (2012)---------------------------------$18.8M
3.Contraband (2012)--------------------------------$12M
4.Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)----------$10M-------$10.7M
5.Beauty and the Beast (1991)--------------------- $8.78M---- $33.6M
6.Haywire (2011)------------------------------------ $8.43M
7.Joyful Noise (2012)------------------------------$5.92M----- $21.7M

Heidi Mueller, Paul Fusco, April Scott, Adam Lambert and David Robbins

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Katie Lohmann

Bobbie Phillips, Nicholas Turturro, Marc Singer, Judy Norton, Ms. Claudine Longet, Kelly Packard, Danny Bravo, Katie Lohmann and Ann Jillian

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Ms. Katharine Ross

Oprah Winfrey, Heather Graham, Isabel Lucas,Tom Selleck, Sara Gilbert, Edward Burns, Ms. Katharine Ross, Justin Hartley and Andrew Keegan

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Crosby, Stills & Nash-Pre-Road Downs

Crosby, Stills & Nash-Pre-Road Downs

I have kissed you
So I'll miss you
On the road I'll be wantin' you
But I have you `cause I love you
And you have me `cause you love me too. Yeah.

Felt forsaken, you'll awaken to joys of livin'
Hand in glove, and then I will lend you my will,
And your days will be filled with love

Don't run the time approaches
Hotels and midnight coaches
Be sure to hide the roaches

Felt rejected, as expected, you rejected all the
Thoughts of words, so I'll pray, with you,
To stay with me forever, and we'll make it work.

Elevated, you're elated, `cause I've waited a year
For you, if you're thinkin' what I'm thinkin'
Then I'm gonna make my love to you.

Don't run the time approaches
Hotels and midnight coaches
Be sure to hide the roaches

Sundance Film Festival 2012 Compete list of Winners

by Binside TV

The Sundance Film festival announced the award winners at their annual closing night ceremony. Ava Duvernay made history as the first African-American woman to win a directing prize at the festival. The film will be distributed by Duvernay’s company AFFRM and Participant Media.

The movie, written and directed by AFFRM founder Ava DuVernay. DuVernay also produced with Howard Barish and Paul Garnes.
Nowhere is a drama chronicling a woman’s separation from her incarcerated husband and her journey to maintain her marriage and her identity.
The movie will use marketing and promotional support through a collective of black film organizations, the same model AFFRM enacted on its first release, DuVernay’s I Will Follow, released in March 2011. (In December 2011, AFFRM distributed last year’s Sundance World Cinema Drama Audience Award winner, Kinyarwanda.)
No date has been set for Nowhere but the company is eyeing a release later this year.
Said DuVernay. “For AFFRM and Participant to combine forces on this film is a bold, ground-breaking move for two companies dedicated to connecting and empowering audiences of every hue through cinema.” [via]

The most buzzed about film “The Surrogate” won top honors with an audience award and acting prize for the cast. The film stars Oscar winner Helen Hunt and Winter’s Bone actor John Hawkes as an ailing man living in an iron lung who hires a sex surrogate to end his virginity. Here is the complete list of winners. Congrats to all of the winners!

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival Awards presented were:

The Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Charles Ferguson to:

The House I Live In / U.S.A. (Director: Eugene Jarecki) — For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet, drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong and what is the path toward healing?

The Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Justin Lin to:

Beasts of the Southern Wild / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Nick Fraser to:

The Law in These Parts / Israel (Director: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz) — Israel’s 43-year military legal system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories unfolds through provocative interviews with the system’s architects and historical footage showing the enactment of these laws upon the Palestinian population.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Julia Ormond to:

Violeta Went to Heaven (Violeta se Fue a Los Cielos) / Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Spain (Director: Andrés Wood, Screenwriters: Eliseo Altunaga, Rodrigo Bazaes, Guillermo Calderón, Andrés Wood) — A portrait of famed Chilean singer and folklorist Violeta Parra filled with her musical work, her memories, her loves and her hopes. Cast: Francisca Gavilán, Thomas Durand, Luis Machín, Gabriela Aguilera, Roberto Farías.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura, was presented by Mike Birbiglia to:

The Invisible War / U.S.A. (Director: Kirby Dick) — An investigative and powerfully emotional examination of the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, the institutions that cover up its existence and the profound personal and social consequences that arise from it.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura, was presented by Mike Birbiglia to:

The Surrogate / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O’Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist in an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary was presented by Edward James Olmos to:

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN / Sweden, United Kingdom (Director: Malik Bendjelloul) — Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic was presented by Edward James Olmos to:

Valley of Saints / India, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Musa Syeed) — Gulzar plans to run away from the war and poverty surrounding his village in Kashmir with his best friend, but a beautiful young woman researching the dying lake leads him to contemplate a different future Cast: Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, Mohammed Afzal Sofi, Neelofar Hamid.

The Best of NEXT <=> Audience Award, Presented by Adobe Systems Incorporated, was presented by Tim Heidecker to:

Sleepwalk With Me / U.S.A. (Director: Mike Birbiglia, Screenwriters: Mike Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia, Seth Barrish) — Reluctant to confront his fears of love, honesty, and growing up, a budding standup comedian has both a hilarious and intense struggle with sleepwalking. Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, Cristin Milioti.

The U.S. Directing Award: Documentary was presented by Fenton Bailey to:

The Queen of Versailles / U.S.A. (Director: Lauren Greenfield) — Jackie and David were triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America – a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles – when their timeshare empire falters due to the economic crisis. Their story reveals the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream.

The U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic was presented by Lynn Shelton to:

Middle Of Nowhere / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ava DuVernay) — When her husband is incarcerated, an African-American woman struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity. Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissaint, Edwina Findley.

The World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary was presented by Jean-Marie Teno to:

5 Broken Cameras / Palestine, Israel, France (Directors: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi) — A Palestinian journalist chronicles his village’s resistance to a separation barrier being erected on their land and in the process captures his young son’s lens on the world.

The World Cinema Directing Award: Dramatic was presented by Alexei Popogrebsky to:

Teddy Bear / Denmark (Director: Mads Matthiesen, Screenwriters: Mads Matthiesen, Martin Pieter Zandvliet) — Dennis, a painfully shy 38-year-old bodybuilder who lives with his mother, sets off to Thailand in search of love. Cast: Kim Kold, Elsebeth Steentoft, Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard, David Winters, Allan Mogensen.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award was presented by Anthony Mackie to:

Safety Not Guaranteed / U.S.A. (Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly) — A trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and seeks to discover what he’s really up to. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni.

The World Cinema Screenwriting Award was presented by Richard Pena to:

Young & Wild / Chile (Director: Marialy Rivas, Screenwriters: Marialy Rivas, Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano, Sebastián Sepúlveda) — 17-year-old Daniela, raised in the bosom of a strict Evangelical family and recently unmasked as a fornicator by her shocked parents, struggles to find her own path to spiritual harmony. Cast: Alicia Rodríguez, Aline Kuppenheim, María Gracia Omegna, Felipe Pinto.

The U.S. Documentary Editing Award was presented by Kim Roberts to:

DETROPIA / U.S.A. (Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady) — The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. This is the dramatic story of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising.

The World Cinema Documentary Editing Award was presented by Clara Kim to:

Indie Game: The Movie / Canada (Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky) — Follow the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world.

The Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary was presented by Tia Lessin to:

Chasing Ice / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Orlowski) — Science, spectacle and human passion mix in this stunningly cinematic portrait as National Geographic photographer James Balog captures time-lapse photography of glaciers over several years providing tangible visual evidence of climate change.

The Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Amy Vincent to:

Beasts of the Southern Wild / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

The World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary was presented by Jean-Marie Teno to:

Putin’s Kiss / Denmark (Director: Lise Birk Pedersen) — 19-year-old Marsha is a model spokesperson in a strongly nationalistic Russian youth movement that aims to protect the country from its enemies. When she starts recognizing the organization’s flaws, she must take a stand for or against it.

The World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic was presented by Alexei Popogrebsky to:

My Brother the Devil / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Sally El Hosaini) — A pair of British Arab brothers trying to get by in gangland London learn the extraordinary courage it takes to be yourself. Cast: James Floyd, Saïd Taghmaoui, Fady Elsayed.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for an Agent of Change was presented by Heather Croall to:

Love Free or Die / U.S.A. (Director: Macky Alston) — One man whose two defining passions are in conflict: An openly gay bishop refuses to leave the Church or the man he loves.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance was presented by Heather Croall to:

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry / U.S.A., China (Director: Alison Klayman) — Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has garnered international attention as much for his ambitious artwork as his political provocations and increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing was presented by Cliff Martinez to:

Andrea Sperling and Jonathan Schwartz for Smashed and Nobody Walks

Smashed / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Susan Burke, James Ponsoldt) — Kate and Charlie are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and… drinking. When Kate decides to get sober, her new lifestyle brings troubling issues to the surface and calls into question her relationship with Charlie. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally.
Nobody Walks / U.S.A. (Director: Ry Russo-Young, Screenwriters: Lena Dunham, Ry Russo-Young) — Martine, a young artist from New York, is invited into the home of a hip, liberal LA family for a week. Her presence unravels the family’s carefully maintained status quo, and a mess of sexual and emotional entanglements ensues. Cast: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Justin Kirk.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting was presented by Cliff Martinez to:

The Surrogate / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O’Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist in an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Artistic Vision was presented by Clara Kim to:

Can / Turkey (Director and screenwriter: Rasit Celikezer) — A young married couple live happily in Istanbul, but their decision to illegally procure a child threatens their future together. Cast: Selen Uçer, Serdar Orçin, Berkan Demirbag, Erkan Avci.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize for its Celebration of the Artistic Spirit was presented by Richard Pena to:

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN / Sweden, United Kingdom (Director: Malik Bendjelloul) — Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away.

The inaugural Short Film Audience Award, Presented by Yahoo!, based on online voting for nine short films that premiered at the Festival and are currently featured on Yahoo! Screen, was presented to:

The Debutante Hunters (Director: Maria White) — In the Lowcountry of South Carolina a group of true Southern belles reveal their more rugged side, providing a glimpse into what drives them to hunt in the wild.

Kirsten Dunst by Adam posted October 6, 2011

Kirsten Dunst doesn’t live a “crazy” Hollywood life.

The 29-year-old actress — who has previously dated rocker Johnny Borrell – is adamant her lifestyle is rather sedate and she is careful with the money she earns from her movie deals.

“Yeah, I have a good job and people like to build me up as having a certain lifestyle. But I’ve got a pretty good head on my shoulders. I support my family and I’m good with money,” she said.

“I have one apartment in New York, it’s got one bedroom. So it’s not like I’m living this crazy life with town cars and buying myself jewelery.”

Following her work promoting Lars Von Trier‘s Melancholia — in which she plays a depressed woman facing up to the end of the world — Kirsten now plans to take some time off to spend with her family.

“I’m going to chill with my family. I’m planning to stay with my mother and my grandmother. And my cousin’s living there too, at the moment,” she said.

“So it’s basically a lot of women in a hose and we sit around and watch (game show) ‘Jeopardy’. You can never get enough of Jeopardy.”

Friday, January 27, 2012

French Children Don't Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman

What British parent hasn't noticed, on visiting France, how well-behaved French children are - compared to our own? Why do French children happily eat what is put in front of them? How can French mums chat to their friends while their children play quietly? The author, who lives in Paris, teaches us the basics of parenting a la francaise.

Trade review
A witty but insightful look at the secrets of parenting "a la Francaise", which aims to do for parenting what "French Women Don't Get Fat" did for dieting.

Russian expat invasion of Cyprus by Luke Harding

Many Russians have made their home on the holiday island, but the Putin regime seems to be reaching deep into the tiny nation

A mysterious Russian cargo ship limped into the Cypriot port of Limassol, this month, forced to seek shelter from a violent storm.

Hidden on board the MS Chariot were four containers packed with 60 tonnes of ammunition for AK-47s and for rocket launchers. The shipment had come from Moscow's state arms company, Rosoboronexport; its shadowy purchaser was none other than the Syrian government.

Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, was supposed to seize the cargo. The weapons flagrantly breached the EU's strict embargo on military supplies to the Syrian regime, which since last year has been violently engaged in shooting and killing its own citizens and anti-regime protesters.

Instead, Cypriot officials allowed the ship to leave after receiving vague assurances it would alter its route. The captain refuelled, left and then set a brisk course for the Syrian port of Tartus, where he delivered his dubious cargo.

Critics say the murky episode is further evidence of Cyprus's unwillingness to displease – and "embarrassing subservience" to – Moscow. The case is reminiscent of when a Cypriot court in 2010 bailed Christopher Metsos – the alleged leader of a bungling Russian spy ring exposed in the US that included the glamorous Anna Chapman. Metsos promptly escaped.

Cyprus's reluctance to offend Vladimir Putin is understandable. The Kremlin has pledged – but not yet handed over – a ¤2.5bn (£2.1bn) loan to bail out Cyprus's economy. Russia has also been a staunch supporter of Cyprus in the UN security council, and an opponent of the unrecognised Ankara-backed Turkish Cypriot "state" in the divided island's north.

So many Russians now live in Limassol, an attractive port with an old city and crusader castle, that the resort has been dubbed "Limassolgrad". There is a Russian-language newspaper, two Russian schools and a radio station. On Sundays Russians flock to Debenhams; the resort's tourist strip features stores selling fur coats, kefir – a sour Russian yoghurt drink, and Baltika, Russia's popular beer.

And then there are Limassol's teeming bars and clubs. There is a seamy eastern dimension, with Ukrainian, Belarussian and Moldovan prostitutes working the beachside drinking spots.

Cyprus's Russian-speaking population is put at 35,000-40,000. It includes many "Pontian" Russians of Greek descent, who grew up in the Soviet Union and migrated here in the 1990s from the Black Sea region.

"Limassol is a part of the Russian Federation," said Artyom, a 25-year-old waiter in the Taras Bulba restaurant, named after the novelist Nikolai Gogol's Cossack hero. Nearby a group of Russian women were celebrating. Why did so many Russians come here? "First, taxes are low. Second, it's easy for Russians to get a visa," he explained.

Natalia Kardash, the editor-in-chief of the Russian weekly Vestnik Kipra, said: "Cyprus is very comfortable. Put yourself in the position of a Russian businessman who wants to work here. He brings his family. His wife can go shopping. She doesn't need to know English. Everyone speaks Russian. There are dozens of Russian hair salons and nail parlours."

She added: "Cyprus has always lived with foreigners. They don't treat foreigners here like foreigners. Russians feel very welcome. Even the mayor of Limassol speaks our language. In eastern Europe they don't like Russians very much – although they do like our money."

Indeed, vast amounts of Russian money are stashed offshore in Cyprus. More than 25% of bank deposits and about one-third of foreign investments come from Russia.

Typically, Russian investors create "brass-plate" companies to take advantage of Cyprus's low 10% corporate tax rate. Many of these funds are reinvested back in Russia – ¤1.4bn in 2008 – avoiding Russian tax. The Cypriot authorities angrily deny that the island is a haven for money laundering. They also point out that Russians invest more cash in Austria and the UK.

But many analysts are sceptical: "We are talking about Russian money laundered through Cyprus. The Russian mafia uses Cyprus extensively," said Hubert Faustmann, associate professor of European studies at Nicosia University. "This is why Russia has no interest in Cyprus going down economically."

The hills above Limassol are home to numerous luxury villas with stunning sea views. Many of these are Russian-owned, and bought via opaque offshore investment vehicles. Others belong to wealthy Cypriots. Locals complain that the influx of Russian cash has driven prices up. The architecture is often classically naff; many villas are empty for much of the year.

Ordinary Russians living in Cyprus say that the island offers what Russia does not: protection from rampant bureaucratic corruption. They also point out that most Russians resident on the island are not gangsters.

Life in sunny Cyprus, they add, is preferable to life in Putin's chilly kleptocratic Russia, where there is little security and no legal protection or redress.

Cyprus's foreign minister, meanwhile, denies that the country has become, in effect, an offshore colony of Russia. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis said that Cyprus had had a close strategic partnership with Moscow dating back to Soviet times, based on a shared Orthodox faith and a cold war history of non-alignment under Archbishop Makarios, who led Cyprus in the 1970s.

Cyprus's president, Demetris Christofias, heads the communist Akel party. He was educated in Soviet Moscow and is a fluent Russian speaker. WikiLeaks cables written by US diplomats capture him displaying a "passion for Nato-bashing"; he proudly described himself during a nostalgia-fuelled 2008 visit to Moscow as "Europe's red sheep".

Of Russia's Cyprus bailout, Kozakou-Marcoullis said: "It was a good loan on good terms. We will pay back every rouble. We are grateful." She added: "Russia has always been supportive of our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Britain's support for Turkey's EU accession, by contrast, makes it a more problematic ally, despite the presence on the island of two British military bases, at Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

Russia's spy agencies are also believed to be active in Cyprus, which is of strategic importance because of its proximity to the Middle East, an area of traditional influence by Moscow. The MS Chariot is not an isolated example of weapons-smuggling. Russia is involved in running a huge weapons trade via Cyprus to the countries of the Middle East, particularly to Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iran – and even to China and India, some Russian sources allege.

Not surprisingly, some wonder whether Cyprus's reliance on Moscow has overstepped the boundaries of propriety. Writing in Cyprus's Sunday Mail, the anonymous columnist Patroclos complained that officials didn't bother to check the contents of the MS Chariot "lest our Russian masters took offence".

The columnist said that the official excuse – that the containers were "too narrow" for inspection was frankly laughable. "Do we expect anyone to believe these pathetically lame excuses which are of the type used by schoolkids who do not do their homework?"

He added: "I thought it was only other countries that put their interests above international legality, conventional obligations and principles."

Ice Warnings

Britain is set to be blasted by cold weather with predicted temperatures of -5C this weekend.
Snow is forecast in some regions as a warm Atlantic weather system from the west clashes with cold air from the east.
Elsewhere there will be widespread showers and hail.
The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for ice to motorists travelling on untreated roads in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and northern England this morning after temperatures dipped overnight.
Issuing its yellow "be aware" warning, it said: "Icy stretches are expected to form on untreated surfaces, especially in places affected by showers.
"The showers will fall as snow above about 250m, but there may be temporary slush deposits to lower levels. The public should be aware of possible travel disruption."
Sunny spells are expected to be interspersed with wintery showers that will progress in a southerly direction throughout today, bringing sleet, hail, thunder and some snow on high grounds.
Temperatures are predicted to drop to between -1C and -5C in the north overnight, with a southerly low of -1C.
During Saturday and Sunday temperatures are expected to range between 4C-7C across Britain with lows of -1C during the night.
Snow fell over high ground in Wales, northern parts of England and Scotland yesterday, reaching depths of between 1-4cm, MeteoGroup said. News

EU and US economic leaders by Chris Otton | AFP

Key policy-makers from Europe and the United States thrashed out ideas for pulling the eurozone out of its debt crisis at the Davos forum on Friday, days ahead of a key European summit.
While cloistered in a snow-bound conference centre high in the Swiss Alps, the global political and business elite had one eye on Greece, hoping that a long-awaited deal to write down its debt might at last fall into place.
Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is in talks with banks and insurers on a voluntary exchange of bonds that would wipe 100 billion euros ($130 billion) off the country's debt of 350 billion euros.
The deal under discussion would see private creditors take a "haircut" of at least 50 percent on 200 billion euros in debt. Previous talks stalled over the amount of interest to be paid on the remaining debt.
Any failure to strike a deal could trigger a messy default, which would be an economic disaster for Greece itself, a threat to banks holding too much sovereign debt and pile on the pressure on other eurozone state.
World markets and delegates in Davos have begun to show signs of cautious optimism that a deal is near, and that Monday's EU summit will draw a line under the debt crisis and allow governments to move on to pro-growth measures.
The finance ministers of Germany and France and the head of the European Central Bank were in Davos to debate strategy and defend the beleaguered single currency area after it was attacked by Britain's leader.
They will all then meet again on Monday in Brussels for the latest in a series of high stakes EU summits, the bloc's first since Standard & Poor's downgraded the credit rating of a slew of eurozone member states.
And US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was to debate the outlook for world economy after the Obama administration acknowledged that the eurozone slump is undermining American growth ahead of the November election.
The annual forum has been marked by gloom about the state of the global economy, and in particular about Europe's struggle to cope with yawning public deficits while at the same time seeking growth and jobs.
The euro has been under pressure -- amid fears that Greece or even eventually a giant like Spain or Italy could default on its debts -- and the 17-nation bloc's economy in on the brink of renewed recession.
A fortnight after France was stripped of its triple A credit rating, Finance Minister Francois Baroin will join his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble in a debate entitled: "How will the eurozone emerge from the euro crisis?"
After the Friday the 13th downgrade by Standard and Poor's, Baroin said the development was "not a catastrophe" and insisted that the government rather than the ratings agencies would decide French policy.
But the Davos meeting has reverberated with calls for eurozone nations to act decisively to restore confidence, Canada's leader Stephen Harper said that Europe's capitals have been guilty of complacency.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also piled on the pressure, reviving his simmering feud with the rest of Europe on Thursday by savaging France and Germany's plans for a new financial transactions tax.
"Even to be considering this at a time when we are struggling to get our economies growing is quite simply madness," he declared.
The eurozone has caused alarm far beyond the continent and Mexican President Felipe Calderon used his speech Thursday to urge Europe to "bring out the bazooka immediately" to prevent the problem from sinking Italy and Spain.
"It is necessary to bring out the bazooka immediately, before the gunpowder gets wet," said Calderon, who holds the rotating chair of G20 world powers.
"Don't forget that we are in the same boat. It is not just a question of a possible implosion of the euro, but a crisis across the world."
Geithner's address comes a day after the Federal Reserve cut its US growth forecast to 2.2-2.7 percent, about one-quarter percentage point below the previous forecasts, citing the eurozone crisis.
"We continue to see headwinds coming from Europe," Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said at a news conference.
The third day of the Davos gathering also focused on events in the Middle East and North Africa, with an address from Hamadi Jebali, the post-revolution Islamist premier of Tunisia, and a debate on Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Jebali's appearance is designed to imbue a rare spirit of optimism but he will speak just as eyes will be turned towards the head of the UN's atomic watchdog as he discusses the implications of Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano will be joined at the debate by Ehud Barak, the defence minister of Iran's arch foe Israel.

Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl wants you to know one thing: She's really, really sorry that she left "Grey's Anatomy." So sorry, in fact, that she can't even watch the show anymore.

"It just makes me sad ... I feel like I'm missing the party," Heigl told TVLine. "I live about five minutes from the studios, so I have to physically hold myself [back] from just popping in and being like, 'Hey guys -- whatcha doin'?"

Heigl left her role as Dr. Izzie Stevens on "Grey's Anatomy" after five seasons in 2010 to focus on her movie career, and while making the press rounds for her new movie "One For the Money," she mentioned that she would like to return to the ABC medical drama. Now, it's seemingly all the actress can talk about.

"I really, really, really want to see where [Izzie] is," Heigl told E! Online late last week. "I just want to know what happened to her and where she went and what she's doing now." Heigl said she's even reached out about it. "I've told them I want to," she told E!

Days later on "The View," Heigl confirmed that she's approached the writers about a possible return to Seattle Grace. "I always felt that if they wanted me to come back and sort of wrap up that storyline," Heigl told the ladies of "The View," with her adopted daughter Naleigh by her side. "I want them to know that I'm down with it if they want me to, but I completely understand if it doesn't necessarily work."

Although Heigl has yet to be approached by the "Grey's" writers, which TVLine confirms, she's not giving up hope just yet.

"You never know," teased Heigl.

Demi Moore

Actress Demi Moore was taken to the hospital on Monday night after having a reported substance abuse issue. Per TMZ, a 9-1-1 call was made from Moore's Los Angeles home at 10:45 p.m.; upon arrival, paramedics spent 30 minutes checking her out before transporting her to a nearby hospital.

Sources tell TMZ that Moore's health problems are substance-abuse related and that she's seeking "further professional assistance." That was not confirmed by reps for Moore, however, who said their client was looking for help to combat fatigue.

"Because of the stresses in her life right now, Demi has chosen to seek professional assistance to treat her exhaustion and improve her overall health," said one of Moore's representatives in a statement to Moviefone. "She looks forward to getting well and is grateful for the support of her family and friends." The rep added that there was no further information available at present time.

Moore had a difficult end to 2011. The actress filed for divorce from husband Ashton Kutcher in November after nearly six years of marriage.

"As a woman, a mother and a wife, there are certain values and vows that I hold sacred, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen to move forward with my life," she told the Associated Press at the time.

UPDATE: Because of her current issues, Moore has had to drop out of "Lovelace," the biopic about the life of Linda Lovelace. She was set to cameo as Gloria Steinem in the film, which stars Amanda Seyfried as the titular porn star.

**Get well soon Demi. God bless you.

Robert Hegyes We Salute You

"Welcome Back Kotter" actor Robert Hegyes has died. According to New Jersey's The Star-Ledger, he was 60 years old.

The Star-Ledger reports he suffered an apparent heart attack in his New Jersey home on Thursday morning.

Hegyes is best known for playing Juan Epstein on "Welcome Back Kotter," the 1970s sitcom, which starred John Travolta and Gabe Kaplan. He appeared in all four seasons of the sitcom and joined most of his fellow Sweathogs at the "Welcome Back Kotter" reunion held at the 2011 TV Land Awards. After "Kotter," Hegyes went on to co-star in "Cagney and Lacey" as Detective Manny Esposito. His other TV work includes an episode of "The Love Boat," "NewsRadio" and "CHiPS."

Hegyes' last credited role was in the 2002 movie "Hip, Edgy, Sexy, Cool."

His brother Mark told The Star-Ledger that Robert was retired, but still talked about being involved in local arts efforts. "He always had these great schemes," his brother said, "but last week he said, 'I'm not going to do that anymore.'"

Hegyes survived by three siblings, two children and two step-children.


Super Bowl 2012, Patriots Vs. Giants by Gethin Coolbaugh

Mark Herzlich is living his dream. The linebacker and special teamer for the New York Giants was a star linebacker for the Boston College Eagles and received national attention for his fight with Ewing's Sarcoma, a former of cancer, which he overcame to return for his senior season at BC and eventually make his dreams of playing in the NFL come true.

Naturally, when he was stricken with cancer, doctor's did not believe Herzlich would ever be able to play football. Yet here we are, a little over a week away from Super Bowl XLVI (which Herzlich may play in), and he is on the NFL's highest stage.

"Two years ago I was in a hospital chair getting chemo, so it's a big turnaround," Herzlich said. "It was about keeping a dream alive, and this was always the dream. To maybe play in a Super Bowl, it's unreal. It was really about never being satisfied with what I was told wasn't possible. It's cool, because it's the same mentality our team has. Everybody in this room truly believed we could make it here and now truly believes we can win." (via WEEI)

Of course, despite being a local fan favorite, it's understandable that football fans in these parts would root for Herzlich's team to fail come Super Bowl Sunday. After all, they are playing the hometown New England Patriots.

As for Herzlich's condition, he is working his way back from an ankle injury that kept him inactive during the NFC Championship Game, but said he is "fine" (per the WEEI report above) and is ready to play in the Super Bowl if he is activated.

By David Brumber

Sorry ladies, if you're trying to catch Wes Welker's attention, it looks like you might be better off growing a 'stache.
Reports are in saying that the NFL's leading reception leader is officially off the market. Welker and longtime girlfriend/Miss Hooters International 2005, Anna Burns, are supposedly set to tie the knot after dating for two years.
The Patriots locker room must be thrilled for their teammate, but will head coach Bill Belichick be worried that Welker may not be focusing 100 percent on the team's next game? Here's hoping the two take the next few weeks off before beginning wedding arrangements. And while Welker may be proud of the new ring he's put on Burns' finger, he's got another piece of jewlery in his sights right now -- a Super Bowl ring.

Maria Sharapova by Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova stood, looked at the players’ box, slammed both of her fists down in celebration and let out an almighty roar of “Come on!”

The world number four had just saved two break points and been taken to deuce four times before eventually holding serve at 4-3 in the third set against second seed Petra Kvitova in their Australian Open semi-final on Thursday.

That game proved the pivotal one in a 6-2 3-6 6-4 victory over the Czech that swept Sharapova into her third final at Melbourne Park against Victoria Azarenka.

“You know, she had so many opportunities in that third set, and I just hung on,” the 24-year-old told reporters.

“There were so many games where it was 15-40, love-30 on my serve, and actually on those points … I hit some really good second serves.

“I think she wanted to step in and maybe go for it, and I was smart about that.”

The Russian needed all her experience against Kvitova, who beat her in last year’s Wimbledon final, after the left-hander roared back into the match by taking the second set.

Neither woman was able to hold serve in the opener when playing into the wind, Sharapova converting all three of her break points, seizing a set lead after the Czech missed backhand.


“In the first set I felt like my pace hurt her a bit,” Sharapova said. “I was just really aggressive. I didn’t give her a chance to really step in and do what she does really well.”

Kvitova relaxed in the second set and raced to a 3-0 lead and put three-times grand slam winner Sharapova under constant pressure on her serve.

The Czech set up a deciding set with an ace down the centre line and when she broke Sharapova for 2-1 she let out a loud yelp of celebration.

Her joy was short-lived, Sharapova broke back immediately and after weathering pressure in the fifth game and heavy fire in the crucial seventh, nosed ahead at 5-4.

Kvitova’s game then fell apart when serving to stay in the match, double-faulting and then committing three unforced errors to gift-wrap Sharapova victory.

“In the whole third set she was serving quite well and I didn’t feel like I had too many good looks on returns,” Sharapova said.

“In the third set, that last game of the third, I really managed to get some returns back.”

**Congrats Maria. We wish you the best in your game against Azarenka. God bless you.

source:Editing by Alastair Himmer/

Azarenka and Sharapova by DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—After 25 Grand Slam tournaments, Victoria Azarenka is through to her first final. Maria Sharapova, her opponent in Saturday’s Australian Open title decider, has been there five times before, and won three.

That’s all history from Azarenka’s perspective.

“It’s no concern for me. I mean, I worked hard to be in this situation, so why stress about it?” Azarenka said Friday of the match that has a Grand Slam title and the No. 1 ranking on the line. “I want it and that’s what I’m looking for.”

Azarenka and Sharapova are two of the loudest “grunters” in women’s tennis. Others refer to it as shrieking, and Azarenka’s is more in alto, while Sharapova’s is a tad higher on the musical scale.

When the pair last played at Key Biscayne, Fla., last year, Azarenka said she felt her grunt was quieter than Sharapova’s.

At Rod Laver Arena this year, fans have started to mimic Azarenka during her matches. Stay tuned for more of the same when the fans hear it from both sides of the court Saturday.

The 22-year-old Azarenka and 24-year-old Sharapova are 3-3 in head-to-head meetings. But Azarenka holds the edge in two finals, having beaten Sharapova in straight sets at Stanford in 2010 and in Florida last year.

Instead of thinking dominance, Azarenka thinks Sharapova might be out for revenge.

“It’s very different, you cannot really look back,” Azarenka said. “It’s always difficult to play somebody you’ve beaten before. They have extra motivation to beat you.”

If Azarenka wins the final, she would be only the third player to rise to the top ranking after her first Grand Slam win. Martina Navratilova rose to No. 1 for the first time after winning Wimbledon in 1978, while Ana Ivanovic did the same after winning the 2008 French Open.

A win by Sharapova would mark the fourth time in the Russian’s career that she’s held the top ranking, the most recent in June 2008. Overall, she’s been No. 1 for 17 nonconsecutive weeks.

Sharapova dismisses any thoughts of playing for the top ranking.

“Having been in the position before … I think, for me, it’s more about the Grand Slam win than the No. 1 ranking,” she said. “That’s just always been the goal for me.”

It’s been four years since Sharapova won the last of her three major titles — here in 2008, and nearly eight years since she lifted the Wimbledon trophy at 17. In between, she won the U.S. Open in 2006.

“It means so much to be back in a Grand Slam final,” Sharapova said. “It’s nice to get that far again (here) after losing quite early in the last couple of years.”

Sharapova has already been on tour long enough to experience the ups and downs of tennis. After winning the 2008 Australian Open, she had shoulder surgery that sidelined her for nine months.

It took much longer for her to get back to anywhere near her peak, and she lost at the Australian Open before the quarterfinals on her last two visits. She reached the Wimbledon final last year, but lost to Petra Kvitova—the player she beat in Thursday’s semifinals.

“With the shoulder, I knew some examples of some people that did not quite recover from surgery and that was a little frightening, but I really had no option,” she said. “Of course it took a long time and it was a process, but it was just something that was in my steps that I had to go through. And I did.”

A handful of women came into the tournament with a chance to hold the No. 1 ranking at the end of it. Caroline Wozniacki ensured she’d vacate the top spot when she lost to defending champion Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals.

Azarenka, by beating Clijsters in the semifinals, took her winning streak to 11 matches after claiming the Sydney International title ahead of the Australian Open.

Like Sharapova, Azarenka has dropped just two sets in Melbourne, including one against Clijsters in the semifinals.

“She’s a really, really good player, and I haven’t had great success against her in the last couple of events that we’ve played against each other,” Sharapova said. “I’d really like to change that. It will be important to tactically play right. She makes you hit a lot of balls and she’s aggressive as well.”

Azarenka agreed strategy will be involved.

“It’s a battle for giving really your all and how well you can manage it,” the Belarusian said. “I know Maria’s game; she knows my game. So of course it’s going to be a little bit of a similarity there.”

Australian Open women’s doubles by JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—With singles play on their minds, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva nearly forgot to sign up in time for doubles at the Australian Open.

The Russians were lucky they got in under the wire. On Friday, they rallied to beat the Italian duo of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to win the women’s doubles championship.

“We focus on singles. Sometimes I go to a Grand Slam, for example, and I don’t know if I’m going to play or not in doubles,” said Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion. “And here, actually I forgot and she forgot that it’s a Monday close (for registration). It’s not our main goal. I was giving it a thought and I said, ‘OK, let’s play.”’

Kuznetsova and Zvonareva are known more for their successes in singles— both have been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world—but they’re no strangers to doubles play. Kuznetsova captured the 2005 Australian Open title with partner Alicia Molik and Zvonareva won the 2006 U.S. Open title with Nathalie Dechy.

They rarely play with one another, however. The last time they teamed up was at last year’s French Open when they lost in the second round.

Errani and Vinci, meanwhile, have been playing together off and on for a couple years. They’ve won five titles together and reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open last year—their best previous Grand Slam result.

The Italians started off strongly in Friday’s final, breaking the Russians four times to take the opening set. But they only converted one of 13 break chances in the rest of the match, wasting five break points in the final game of the third set alone when Kuznetsova was serving for the match.

“I think we had chances in the beginning of the second set. We lost three games with 15-40 when they were serving. Also in the last game, we had some balls to make the break but we didn’t make it. It happens,” said Errani, who also made the quarterfinals in singles. “I think we played a good tournament.”

Kuznetsova and Zvonareva are the first unseeded pair to win the Australian Open women’s doubles title since Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko did it in 2008.

Now that they’ve have captured a major together, will they put more emphasis on doubles—particularly in an Olympic year?

Zvonareva said they haven’t made any firm plans yet.

“If we’re fit enough to compete in singles and doubles, I’m sure we would like to do it. But we won’t sacrifice I think our singles to play doubles,” she said.

“It will all depend on how we’re feeling. The most important is to feel good, to stay injury free.”

**Congrats to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva.

**Too bad for Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Anyway, there will be next time girls.

**God bless.

Mr. James Cromwell, Bridget Fonda, Mimi Rogers, Patton Oswalt, Todd Louiso, Alan Cumming, Amy Hargreaves,Tamlyn Tomita and Susanna Thompson

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Tower of Power - So Very Hard to Go

Sorry for the delay in posting this warning.

Comments--Not suitable for kids.

Tower of Power - So Very Hard to Go


Ain't nothin' I can say, nothin' I can do
I feel so bad, yeah, I feel so blue
I got to make it right for everyone concerned
Even if it's me, if it means it's me what's gettin' burned
'Cause I could never make you unhappy
No, I couldn't do that girl
Only wish I didn't love you so
Makes it so, so very hard to go
(So very hard to go)
'Cause I love you so (So very hard to go)
Ah, I love you so

I knew the time would come
I'd have to pay for my mistakes,
I can't blame you for what you're doin' to me girl
Even tho' my heart aches
Your dreams have all come true just the way you planned them
So I'll just step aside, I'm gonna step aside
And lend a helping hand then
'Cause I could never make you unhappy
No I couldn't do that girl
Only wish I didn't love you so
Makes it so, so very hard to go
(So very hard to go)
'Cause I love you so (so very hard to go)
Oh, I love you so Haiii

I could never make you unhappy
No, I couldn't do that girl
Only wish I didn't love you so
Makes it so, so very hard to go
(So very hard to go)
'Cause I love you so (So very hard to go)
Ah, I love you so (So very hard to go)
And it ain't easy to walk away when a man love somebody (So very hard to go)
yeah hey hey hey

CHICAGO - a hit by varese

Eddie Van Halen, Lucinda Williams, Wayne Gretzky, Allison Hossack, Angela Davis, Cathy Podewell, Louanne, Lucia Mendez and Scott Glenn

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

CHICAGO - a hit by varese

Please won't you sing me

A thing that will bring me right into the sky?

If you would play it

Just lay it down, say, it will help me get by

Something to move me

Remove me and groove me, you want to know why

I'm so tired of oldies

And moldies and goldies, that I want to cry

Can you play free

Or in three agree to attempt something new?

Hey we believe we need you

A seed that will lead to a hit by Varese

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Olivier Assayas, Alicia Keys, Tobe Hooper, Christine Lakin, Mia Kirshner, Ana Ortiz, Dinah Manoff, Shawna Waldron and Hafsia Herzi

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Daniel Auteuil

Yesterday is your birthday. Happy Birthday. God bless.

Karin Viard

Yesterday is your birthday. Happy Birthday. God bless.

Anna Marie Goddard

Belated Happy Birthday. God bless.

UK economy

The British economy contracted by a worse-than-expected 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, official data showed Wednesday, stoking fresh fears of a double-dip recession.

"GDP decreased by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, driven by weakness in the production sector and the construction sector," the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

The disappointing performance, which comes amid painful government austerity measures and the raging eurozone debt crisis, was a major slowdown from the 0.6-percent growth witnessed in the previous three months.

And it marked the first quarterly contraction since the fourth quarter of 2010, when economic activity was hit by freezing weather and fell by 0.5 percent.

Market expectations had been for gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink by 0.1 percent in the October-December period, compared with the third quarter.

"Today's data suggest that the UK is probably in the midst of a double-dip recession and we expect the economic picture in 2012 to remain gloomy," said economist Scott Corfe at the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

"Exports will be sluggish with our main export markets in Europe in recession and other markets slowing down, while investment is unlikely to be buoyant against this background."

The technical definition of a recession is two successive quarters of contracting economic output.

Although Britain is not a member of the eurozone, it relies on the crisis-hit region for the majority of its trade.

"Unfortunately, UK economic activity is likely to get worse before it gets better, with a technical recession likely to be confirmed by first-quarter 2012 GDP numbers," said ING economist James Knightley.

"Household spending is constrained by the fact that wages have failed to keep pace with the cost of living for four consecutive years while job insecurity is rising once again," added Knightley.

"At the same time, austerity measures mean government spending will contract and the eurozone sovereign debt crisis is hurting exports to the UK's largest trading partners."

Wednesday's data came one day after the International Monetary Fund slashed its 2012 growth estimate to just 0.6 percent, compared with the prior forecast of 1.6 percent expansion, and blamed "intensifying strains" in the eurozone.

Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray by Peter Rutherford

MELBOURNE, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Giant-killers Ekaterina
Makarova and Kei Nishikori were cut down to size at the
Australian Open on Wednesday as Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray
strode into the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

World number 56 Makerova had slayed five-times champion
Serena Williams in the fourth round with venomous backhands and
dogged determination, but she was let down by an insipid serve
against Sharapova, who ran out an easy 6-2 6-3 winner.

Briton Andy Murray never looked in any danger of succumbing
to another seismic shock at Melbourne Park, swatting aside
Japan's Nishikori 6-3 6-3 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena.

Novak Djokovic, who kickstarted a sublime 2011 season by
beating Murray in last year's Australian Open final, faces
fifth-ranked Spaniard David Ferrer in the evening session.


Kvitova is one of three women in with a chance to take over
the world number one ranking from Caroline Wozniacki, who was
knocked out by Kim Clijsters on Tuesday. The other two are
Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, who Kvitova beat in last
year's Wimbledon final.

Sharapova will get the chance to avenge that defeat after
seeing off Makarova in straight sets.

The Melbourne Park crowd have given fellow primal screamer
Victoria Azarenka a hard time throughout the tournament but they
were more forgiving of the Sharapova shrieks, which assaulted
eardrums anywhere in the vicinity of Rod Laver Arena.

Sharapova, who won the last of her three grand slams at
Melbourne Park in 2008, shrugged off the debate about her
"grunting" and said she had no plans to tone it down.

"I've been the same over the course of my career. No one
important enough has told me to change or do something
different," she added.

Japan's Nishikori also made a lot of noise in Melbourne with
his stunning fourth-round win over Frenchman Tsonga, but his
excellent run came to a halt at the hands of a ruthless Murray.

Nishikori, the first Japanese man through to the last eight
in Melbourne for 80 years, was cheered on by kimono-clad fans at
Rod Laver Arena but bowed out after a two-hour 12-minute

**Keep it up Maria. God bless.

source:Editing by Patrick Johnston/

Sara Errani by Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE, Jan 25 (Reuters) - World number two Petra Kvitova rallied from a three-game deficit in the second set before advancing to the Australian Open semi-finals with a 6-4 6-4 win over Italian surprise package Sara Errani on Wednesday.

The Wimbledon champion, who has played four of her five matches first up on Rod Laver Arena, found herself 4-1 down in the second set before she reeled off the next five games to maintain her quest for a second grand slam title.

Unseeded Errani, who at 1.64m was dwarfed by the 1.83m Kvitova, stretched the Czech throughout their match, putting a surprising amount of topspin on the ball and blasting winners down the line.

Second seed Kvitova was her own worst enemy at times and looked exasperated after committing 44 unforced errors.

“At the beginning I was a little nervous because I knew everybody expected it to be an easy match,” the 21-year-old told reporters.

“Of course you have a little pressure on your back because you have a grand slam and everybody is expecting that you win all your matches when you play.

“But it’s not really easy. That’s why I’m really happy to be in the semi-final here.”

Kvitova is one of three women still in with a chance to take over the world number one ranking from Caroline Wozniacki, who was knocked out by Kim Clijsters on Tuesday.

The other two are Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, who she beat in last year’s Wimbledon final.

Kvitova will face Sharapova again in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park after the Russian beat Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets.

While the diminutive Errani could have been mistaken for a Melbourne Park ball-kid had she been wearing a blue shirt, she showed that good things can come in small packages.

On several occasions she produced blistering backhand groundstokes that left the normally assured and mobile Kvitova flatfooted.

There was no rest for the Italian, who was playing her doubles semi-final with compatriot Roberta Vinci against Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka later on Wednesday.

**Too bad Sara. Anyway, there will be next time. Good Luck in your doubles semifinal game. God bless.

source:Additional reporting by Peter Rutherford/Editing by John O’Brien/

Seal and Heidi Klum by Katie Kindelan | ABC News Blogs

Pop star Seal and supermodel Heidi Klum were never shy about discussing their relationship while they were married, and it seems they won't be shy in their post-marriage life either.

Less than 24 hours after confirming the rumors that their nearly seven-year marriage was over, Seal is speaking out, following through on two interviews to promote his new "Soul 2" album in which the topic of the couple's separation was very much on the table.

"I think we were shocked," Seal says in an appearance today on the "Ellen Degeneres Show." "You go into these things with the greatest intentions when you say, 'I do' and ...'till death do us part.' Those vows hold value. They are not just words."

The Hollywood power couple, and the parents of three kids together, confirmed their separation in a statement released to People magazine Monday.

"While we have enjoyed seven very loving, loyal and happy years of marriage, after much soul-searching we have decided to separate," the couple said in the statement.

Seal explained the split to Degeneres, saying, "You just grow apart after awhile" but said media and fans should not expect a nasty Hollywood divorce.

"She is still, in my opinion, the most wonderful woman in the world," he said. "I think our priority was to remain civil and do this thing with dignity. We still very much love each other."

Seal reiterated those same comments to PBS host Tavis Smiley in a taped interview scheduled to air this Friday, Jan. 27.

"What one has to do in this situation is to remain civil, to retain one's dignity, to be professional and to understand that we are not the only people on this planet that are going through this," the singer told Smiley.

That civility could come in handy if the couple moves forward with divorce.

Together, the glamorous duo would have a near fortune to divide. Klum, 38, is said to have earned $20 million last year alone as host of "Project Runway" and appearances in various ad campaigns, while Seal, 48, has his new album and four Grammy awards to his name

The two began dating in 2003 while Klum was pregnant with her first child, Helene -- nicknamed Leni -- with Italian racecar team manager Flavio Briatore.

In December 2004, Seal proposed to Klum in a specially built igloo atop a glacier in Whistler, B.C., with a 10-carat plus, yellow diamond ring.

They said "I do" on the beach in Costa Careyes, Mexico, in May 2005, and have famously, and very publicly, renewed their vows in lavish ceremonies each year since.

The couple has two sons, Henry, 6, and Johan, 5, and one daughter Lou, 2. Seal officially adopted Leni, now 7 1/2, in 2009.

Those children, and the couple's history together, appear to be two of the reasons Seal still wears his wedding ring, even after the separation.

"Just because we have decided to separate doesn't necessarily mean you take off your ring and you're no longer connected to that person," he told Ellen. "We will be connected in many ways till the rest of our lives. ... Will we wear the ring for the rest of our lives? Who knows? But right now it feels really comfortable on my hand, so I have no intentions of taking it off anytime soon."

What Seal did not reveal in the interviews is why, exactly, the seemingly happy couple split, something that is confounding close friends and fans alike, and setting the Internet abuzz with rumors.

"It's unclear what went wrong in their marriage, but according to friends it had to be something major," Carlos Greer, a reporter for People magazine, told ABC News. "Heidi and Seal's friends are extremely shocked."

Mr. James Farentino We Salute You

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actor James Farentino, who appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, died Tuesday in a Los Angeles hospital, according to a family spokesman. He was 73.

Farentino died of heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Hospital after a long illness, said the spokesman, Bob Palmer.

Farentino starred alongside Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen in the 1980 science fiction film "The Final Countdown." The movie featured a modern aircraft carrier that travels back in time to Pearl Harbor hours before the Japanese attack.

Farentino also starred opposite Patty Duke in 1969's "Me, Natalie."

In 1967, he won a "Most Promising Newcomer" Golden Globe for his performance in the comedy "The Pad and How to Use It."

He also had recurring roles on "Dynasty," ''Melrose Place," ''The Bold Ones: The Lawyers" and "ER," playing the estranged father to George Clooney's character.

In 1978, he was nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of Saint Peter in the television mini-series "Jesus of Nazareth."

A four-time divorcee, Farentino's tumultuous personal life made headlines, too.

In March 1994, he pleaded no contest to stalking his ex-girlfriend Tina Sinatra, daughter of Frank Sinatra.

In 2010, the actor was arrested at his Hollywood home on suspicion of battery when he tried to physically remove a man from his home.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1938, Farentino is survived by two sons, David and Saverio.

RIP Press

Virginie Ledoyen

Virginie Ledoyen

Virginie Ledoyen

attends the Lancel celebration of '135 Years Of French Legerete'. Hosted By Sienna Miller on November 24, 2011 in Paris, France.

Virginie Ledoyen

Roxane Mesquida and Virginie Ledoyen

The Miu Miu Ready to Wear Spring /Summer 2012 show in Paris, France( October 5, 2011).

Virginie Ledoyen

attends the Miu Miu Ready to Wear Spring / Summer 2012 show during Paris Fashion Week on October 5, 2011 in Paris, France.

Virginie Ledoyen

Virginie Ledoyen

Virginie Ledoyen

Virginie Ledoyen

Virginie Ledoyen

attends the Chanel Ready to Wear Spring / Summer 2012 show during Paris Fashion Week at Grand Palais on October 4, 2011 in Paris, France.

Virginie Ledoyen

attends the Chanel Ready to Wear Spring / Summer 2012 show during Paris Fashion Week at Grand Palais on October 4, 2011 in Paris, France.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mr. Neil Diamond ,Victoria Sanchez , Irene Miracle, Valentine Demy and Haji

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Matthew Lillard, Johann Urb, Mischa Barton, Ed Helms, Callan McAuliffe,Tatyana Ali, Stephanie Romanov, Michael Des Barres and Kristen Schaal

Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Mr. Ernest Borgnine

Happy Birthday Mr. Borgnine. God bless you.

Mr. William B. Davis

Belated Happy Birthday. God bless.

Graham McPherson, Mr. Billy Gray, Anna Jarphammar, Annie Jones, Ivana Mihic, Richard Moll, Paul Kelly, Keith Coogan andTraci Bingham

Belated Happy Birthday guys. God bless.

Sony and Panasonic by Isabel Reynolds | Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp and rival Panasonic Corp are set to report a slump in quarterly earnings and may cut full-year forecasts after being hit by yen strength, Thai floods and consumer gloom in Europe during the vital pre-Christmas period.

Both companies saw their debt ratings downgraded by Moody's Investor Services last week, as their TV divisions continue to bleed red ink despite restructuring efforts.

Sony, which reports on February 2, is expected to barely break even for the normally lucrative October-December quarter. Operating profit is seen shriveling 94 percent to 8.8 billion yen ($114.3 million), based on an average estimate from 6 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

That would be its worst third-quarter performance since the 2008 financial crisis. By contrast, Samsung Electronics posted a record quarterly profit this month on growing smartphone sales.

During the quarter, Europe's debt crisis battered consumer confidence there while U.S. holiday spending on traditional electronic goods such as TVs and cameras -- which Japanese makers are more reliant on -- fell, as TV prices slid and as consumers splurged more money on tablets.

Japan's TV makers have fallen behind their South Korean counterparts, partly hobbled by unfavorable exchange rates and their failure to bite the bullet on necessary investments.

"They have not made the right massive investments in panel manufacturing at the right time. If you do this half-heartedly, it ties your hands and has the opposite of the desired effect," said Nobuo Kurahashi, an analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities.

Sony said last month it had extricated itself from its liquid-crystal display panel-making venture with Samsung Electronics, allowing it to source cheaper panels from the open market to try to keep pace with declines in TV prices.

That was seen as a necessary step to return its ailing TV business to profit after what is expected to be its eighth straight annual loss in the year to March.

But TV prices continue to slide. A 40-inch flat panel TV cost an average 68,200 yen in Japan in December, down nearly 40 percent from a year earlier, according to research firm BCN.

The maker of everything from PlayStation games consoles to "The Smurfs" movie, Sony has touted its mobile phone business as a way of integrating its online content offerings across devices to better compete with Apple.

But Sony Ericsson posted an unexpected 247 million euro ($322.3 million) loss for the final quarter, underscoring the hurdles Sony faces in smartphones too.

For the full-year to end-March, the market consensus from 19 analysts is for Sony to post an operating profit of just 8 billion yen, below the company's forecast of 20 billion yen.

Panasonic, which reports on February 3, is expected to see a 41 percent fall in quarterly operating profit to 56.2 billion yen, hurt by losses in its TV division, lower chip earnings and a weak performance from its Sanyo unit.

Analysts expect a full-year operating profit of 124 billion yen, less than the company's forecast of 130 billion yen, and the firm may cut its guidance for the second time.

The company is already forecasting a 420 billion yen net loss for the year, its worst in a decade, as it hives off overlapping businesses after buying out subsidiaries including Sanyo and accelerates restructuring in its TV division.

The best performer among domestic TV players may well be Sharp Corp, whose move to focus on premium large screen televisions, capitalizing on its 10th generation LCD panel plant, may protect it from a slide in profit, some analysts say.

Games maker Nintendo Co Ltd, which kicks off the sector's earnings announcements on January 26, is expected to see a 50 percent slide in quarterly profit after slashing the price of its 3DS handheld games gadget to boost sales.

Shares in Sony have fallen by almost half since the beginning of the financial year, while Panasonic has fallen about 40 percent, compared with a decline of 10 percent for the Nikkei.

($1 = 77.1200 Japanese yen) ($1 = 0.7665 euros)

source:Editing by Edwina Gibbs/

Tulisa Contostavlos And Fazer Split

N-Dubz bandmates Tulisa and Fazer have reportedly split up after a series of arguments.

The N-Dubz bandmates - who have known each other since they were 11 years old after forming the group with her cousin Dappy Contostavlos - are said to have broken up after a series of arguments.

A source told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "It's all over for Tulisa and Fazer.

"Fazer has been out clubbing twice this week without Tulisa, and she, too, has been spending more time with her friends away from him.

"They are insisting nobody else is involved and clearly don't want to stick the knife in to each other because they've been close since they were 11.

"They've still got a lot of respect for each other, but they've had a very turbulent relationship."

The 23-year-old 'X Factor' judge and the music producer - who sparked rumours they were getting engaged just weeks ago - have threatened to split up on more than one occasion following an argument, but insiders believe they are over for good as she needs to keep a "clean-cut" image for her career.

The source added: "They're both very feisty and not scared to speak their mind, and one of them will often storm out and tell the other their relationship is over during their fiery rows.

"But they really do sound serious this time. It wouldn't be out of the ordinary if they changed their mind in a week or two and got back together but their closest friends feel it's different this time.

"Tulisa was successful with N-Dubz, but 'X Factor' has turned her into a household name and she can't afford any damage to her image.

"It's important that she is reasonably clean-cut, and Dappy and Fazer can sometimes push the boundaries."

The couple are said to have split on a recent holiday to Barbados, where they were thought to have been "arguing the whole time", but Fazer has told friends he now wants her back.

A source told the Daily Star newspaper: "They were arguing the whole time they were away and haven't managed to sort things out.

"Since they got back Tulisa hasn't been staying in the flat they share, choosing instead to stay with her PA to give her some much-needed space.

"Fazer has been staying with a friend too. But he's has been telling people in his circle that he still loves her and wants her back."

Tulisa was spotted partying at London's Maddox club with friends on Saturday night (21.01.12), while Fazer - whose real name is Richard Rawson - spent Wednesday night (18.01.12) at London's Aura nightclub and Saturday at Club 55.

By JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Caroline Wozniacki lost more than just her Australian Open quarterfinal match against Kim Clijsters. She’s also guaranteed to lose the No. 1 ranking she’s held for nearly 67 weeks.

Yet it may end up being something of a relief for the 21-year-old Dane, who has faced endless scrutiny since she rose to the top of the game in October 2010 without winning a Grand Slam title.

The questions about whether she deserves to be No. 1 will stop, but new questions about whether she’ll ever get over the hump and capture that elusive first major will undoubtedly continue.

Other women have held the top ranking before winning a Grand Slam title, including Clijsters. Amelie Mauresmo spent time at No. 1 more than a year before she won the first of her two majors in 2006.

Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina have held the top spot without ever breaking through at a Grand Slam.

Safina made three major finals before back problems forced her to stop playing last year. Jankovic’s best result was a runner-up finish at the 2008 U.S. Open; she’s been past the fourth round only one time since.

Wozniacki, who has only reached one slam final at the U.S. Open in 2009, scoffs at suggestions that her window of opportunity is closing.

“The media talks to me like I’m finishing my career and I only have one year left and time is running out,” she said after falling to Clijsters 6-3, 7-6 (4). “The fact is I still have quite a few good years in front of me. I still improve. I still have a number of Australians and a number of U.S. Opens and Wimbledons and French Opens left.

“I will definitely do my best and try to win one or even more,” she added. “In the end of the day, you can just do your best. You can’t do anything more than that.”

Not having to defend her No. 1 ranking anymore may take some of the pressure off. Before losing to Wozniacki in the Round of 16 this week, Jankovic said she was glad she was no longer in that position.

“It’s kind of nice to be a little bit away from that and just really focus on my tennis, on my game, and don’t really have to answer those questions every day from you guys,” she said.

Jankovic said she believes Wozniacki will win a major “sooner or later” and urged critics to ease off.

“I think you kind of give her a little, you know, hard time sometimes,” she said. “I think sometimes you just should let it go.”

Four-time Grand Slam winner Clijsters leapt to Wozniacki’s defense after their match, as well.

“She’s worked very hard to get to where she is, and she’s one of the most consistent players,” Clijsters said. “People are almost in a way almost blaming her for it. I think that’s something that is really absurd.”

Wozniacki’s critics won’t be able to focus on the No. 1 next to her name for very long. With her quarterfinal loss, she is assured of falling out of the top spot when the new rankings come out on Monday.

Three players are still in contention to supplant her: Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka (who is yet to win a Grand Slam title herself) and Maria Sharapova (who needs to make the final to have a shot).

For her part, Wozniacki said she’s never been fixated on being No. 1. She didn’t sound too upset about losing it, either.

“To be honest, I don’t really think about it,” she said. “I have been there for a long time already. I finished No. 1 two years in a row. In the end of the year we will see who played the best.”

“I will get it back eventually, so I’m not worried,” she added.

Clijsters thinks it’s only a matter of time before Wozniacki breaks through at a major.

“She’s good enough,” said Clijsters, who has beaten Wozniacki in all three of their meetings. “It’s taken me a couple years; it’s taken other people, you know, a while as well.

“So I think it’s all a matter of experience and improving, definitely improving and trying to learn from losses and become better every Slam. Then she will definitely get there.”

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

Sara Errani of Italy, right, shakes hands with Zheng Jie of China at the net after winning their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.

**Congrats Sara. Keep it up. God bless.